Using the statin class of cholesterol medications was associated with a 21% lower risk of primary-open angle glaucoma (POAG) in adults 40 years of age and older, a recent study found. The study also associated every 20mg/dL increase in total serum cholesterol with a 7% increase in POAG risk.1

Researchers collected data biennially from 136,782 participants who self-reported information on elevated cholesterol level status, serum cholesterol levels and duration of statin use. The study identified 886 POAG incident cases. Any self-reported history of elevated cholesterol was associated with a higher risk of POAG, and any history of any statin use was associated with a 15% lower risk, compared with those who had no history of statin use. Use for five or more years was associated with a 21% lower risk, and use for 10 years or more had a 40% lower risk.1

The study proposes that intraocular pressure-lowering and neuroprotective mechanisms might potentially be the reason for lowering POAG risk. Researchers believed imprecise exposures based on the patients’ self-recall and possible chance findings were possible limitations for the study.1

The findings add to a growing body of literature supporting the positive effects of statin use on ocular health. Another report, published online in JAMA Ophthalmology in January, found statin therapy was associated with a decreased risk of diabetic retinopathy and the need for treatment in a Taiwanese population.2 A third study presented at this year’s ARVO conference in Vancouver found statin users had higher corneal clarity levels than non-users in a UK population.3

1. Kang JH, Boumenna T, Stein JD. Association of statin use and high serum cholesterol levels with risk of primary open-angle glaucoma. JAMA Ophthalmol. May 2, 2019. [Epub ahead of print].

2. Kang EY, Chen TH, Garg SJ, et al. Association of statin therapy with prevention of vision-threatening diabetic retinopathy. JAMA Ophthalmol. January 10, 2019. [Epub ahead of print].

3. Usman MN, Raven-Martin T, Carley F, et al. The effect of statin use on overall corneal clarity in UK participants examined using Pentacam densitometry. ARVO 2019. Abstract 2146.