Statin drugs may increase your risk for cataracts

Prescription Drugs


By pH health care professionals

Cataract surgery is so common that it almost seems like a normal part of aging. Cloudy lenses in the eye are surgically removed, and new ones are popped in like contacts. Voila, Grandma is seeing 20/20 again. But cataract surgery can have complications, and there may an uncomfortable period of vaguely cloudy vision before eye doctors consider cataracts “bad enough” to operate.

So are there ways to prevent this eye surgery?

First, let’s look at the main causes of cataracts:

  •          Congenital (baby is born with them)
  •          “Senile” (age-related), thought to be related to decreased ability of antioxidants to get to the lens as structural changes occur with time
  •          Severe trauma to the eye
  •          Eye surgery
  •          Intraocular inflammation can also cause cataracts to occur earlier in life
  •          Excessive ultraviolet-light exposure (tanning beds, too much sun exposure)
  •          Diabetes
  •          Steroid medications (such as children use for asthma)
  •           Smoking

However, a newer concern is that statin drugs (Lipitor, Crestor and other cholesterol drugs) increase cataract risk. This was investigated in a 2013 paper in JAMA Ophthalmology. The authors thought that anti-inflammatory and antioxidant effects in statins would lower cataract risk, but they found the opposite. The lens actually requires high cholesterol to stay nice and clear, so statin drugs might be too much of a good thing. Multiple studies seem to back up the research.

But doctors caution that if you are taking statins for high cholesterol or heart attack, it’s wiser to stay on them. Cataract surgery is considered comparably “easy,” while a heart attack or stroke can kill or seriously disable you. Keep your doctor’s appointments, and always inquire about whether your dose of statins can been lowered. You can potentially achieve this by eating a diet heavy in fruits and vegetables.

Be proactive. Enjoy Your Healthy Life!

The pH professional health care team includes recognized experts from a variety of health care and related disciplines, including physicians, attorneys, nutritionists, nurses and certified fitness instructors. This team also includes the members of the pH Medical Advisory Board, which constantly monitors all pH programs, products and services. To learn more about the pH Medical Advisory Board, click here.


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