Statins are common across the United States as some 38.6 million Americans used the lipid-lowering cardiovascular aides in 2011 and 2012—and that’s a nearly 38% increase in less than a decade.1 Overall, these drugs are greatly beneficial, but optometrists should be aware of one particular deleterious effect of these drugs—increased risk of dry eye disease (DED). According to newly published research, patients with a history of statin use or dyslipidemia have elevated risk of DED.2

The investigators looked at the cases of 39,336 patients seen at University of North Carolina’s ophthalmology clinics over 10 years. DED was found in 8.6% of them.2 The usage was categorized as low in 1.9%, moderate in 6.8% and high in 2.6%.2 The study identified the odds of a DED diagnosis as 1.39 in low-intensity statin use, 1.47 in moderate-intensity use and 1.46 in high-intensity statin use.2

While the medications themselves may or may not be behind the elevated DED risk, researchers noted that lipid abnormalities alone are also a risk factor.2

1. Adedinsewo D, Taka N, Agasthi P, Sachdeva R, et al. Prevalence and factors associated with statin use among a nationally representative sample of US adults: national health and nutrition examination survey, 2011-2012. Clinical Cardiology. 2016;39(9):491-6.

2. Aldaas K, Ismail O, Hakim J, et al. Association of dry eye disease with dyslipidemia and statin use. Am J Ophthalmol. May 12, 2020. [Epub ahead of print].