Sunday, March 9, 2014

Statin & Your Eyes : Impaired vision?

Cataracts are known to be age-related eye condition amongst general population. Most people think that cataracts is common as we age, especially after 55-60 years old. There are several known causes of cataracts which includes aging, nutritional deficiency and environmental stressors. Well, at least these causes are what most medical practitioners and even general population have thought to believe which contribute to cataracts. 

First of all, I'm not an eye expert nor ophthalmologist. But, reading journals and doing investigative work on health, nutrition, diseases and fitness are my passion and skills. I recently consulted an ophthalmologist/eye surgeon, and asked for opinions on dry eyes. As expected, the eye specialist refuse to discuss about why one developed dry eyes, but he was very interested in selling a 'supplement' eye drops to me. He claimed that this eye drop product is SAFE to use long term and there is no chemical and supposedly very high quality. Guess what, when i got the eye drop product from the pharmacy counter, first ingredient "Propylene Glycol". There are other chemicals in the product as well. I was speechless and disappointed with this doctor. Not only he was clueless about what's actually in the product he was promoting and selling to patients, yet, he did not do his homework to ensure the products recommendation is safe to use. This is a real life situation and what I have personally experienced.

Recently, my relative member had to undergo multiple surgery on his eye, due to vision impairment and other eye disorders. The first question I asked him " Are you on statins?" The answer is YES. Now, what does cholesterol lowering drugs have to do with our eyes and its health? When one suffers from diplopia (double vision), cataracts or even ophthalmoplegia (weakness or paralysis of the muscles controlling one or both eyes), there is a high chance that most ophthalmologist did not even bother asking the patient if he or she is on statins. Most doctors think that eye condition such as cataracts are part of the aging process. 

After reviewing journals from Fraunfelder and Richards(Journal of Ophthalmology 115(12) April 2008) and the Waterloo Eye Study, I no longer convince that some of the eye disorders are due to normal aging process. In today's post, I hereby present to you some of the studies which linked statin drugs and certain eye disorders such as cataracts and diplopia. As reduction of cholesterol by statin drugs causes the formation of cataract to increase, 256 cases have been reported as of 2008. It is assumed that many other cases are unreported and more likely to suffer from the adverse effects of statin use. Bear in mind, every muscle in the body requires cholesterol to function properly. That is why muscle weakness is one of the many side effects of statin therapy. Meanwhile, diabetic patients also have high risk (86%) of developing cataracts compared to normal person. 

Both mentioned studies have linked both statin drugs with eye conditions as these dangerous drugs increased the risk of respective disorders. I do agree that aging is one of the factors but it is very important to realize and learn from these medical journals the impact of statins on our eyes. Are we doing this to ourselves without knowing it? If you have anyone in your family or loved ones who is on statin drugs, please do share these information to them. 

Fraunfelder FW, Fraunfelder FT. Drug related adverse effects of clinical importance to the ophthalmologist. Course presented at the American Academy of Ophthalmology Annual Meeting, Chicago. November 10-13, 2012.

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