Age-related macular degeneration: Cholesterol, diabetes drugs may lower risk

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Age-related macular degeneration (AMD) is an eye condition characterized by deterioration of the central field of vision. According to the National Eye InstituteTrusted Source, AMD is the leading cause of blindness in older adults and typically affects those ages 55 and older.

Multiple factors may affect AMD risk, including genetic and environmental risk factorsTrusted Source. Factors that may increase risk include smokingTrusted Source, a sedentary lifestyleTrusted Source, and chronic inflammationTrusted Source. Despite decades of research, no medical treatments exist to prevent AMDTrusted Source and limited methodsTrusted Source available to slow its progression.

Studies have examined how various drugs, such as lipid-lowering drugs (LLD)sTrusted Source like statins, nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs)Trusted Source, and antidiabetic drugsTrusted Source, affect the development of AMD.

Results from these studies, however, have been inconsistent. It thus remains unclear as to whether these drugs are linked to the risk of AMD.

In a new study, researchers conducted a meta-analysis of studies examining the links between various medications and AMD. They found that LLDs and antidiabetic drugs are linked to a lower prevalence of AMD.

Dr. Howard R. Krauss, surgical neuro-ophthalmologist and director of Pacific Neuroscience Institute’s Eye, Ear & Skull Base Center at Providence Saint John’s Health Center in Santa Monica, CA, not involved in the study, told Medical News Today:

“The implications of these findings are that there may be pharmaceuticals, supplements, or lifestyle changes, beyond those already determined (such as smoking cessation) which will [delay] the onset and progression of AMD. In particular, LLDs and diabetes drugs are candidates worthy of further study.” The study was recently published in the British Journal of Ophthalmology. For the study, the researchers analyzed 14 studies that included data on systemic medication use and AMD in various European countries, including: Altogether, they included records from 38,694 patients. Between the 14 included studies, the average age ranged from 61.5 to 82.6 years old. Overall, the researchers recorded 9,332 and 951 cases of any and late AMD, respectively. After analyzing the data, they found that LLDs and antidiabetic drugs were linked to 15% and 22% lower AMD prevalence.

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