- Statins are beneficial in the treatment of Vitrectomy, a surgery done for retinal detachment.
- Retinal detachment the most serious common retinal disorder may even lead to blindness.
- Statins reduce inflammation and the formation of scar tissue inside the eye.
Statins which are approved drugs to lower cholesterol can reduce the risk of repeated surgery in patients who undergo a vitrectomy.
Vitrectomy is an eye surgery done to treat a detached retina. Statins might prevent the formation of scar tissue inside the eye.
Conducted at the Helsinki University Hospital, the population-based cohort study is based on an extensive store of register data of Finnish patients who have undergone vitreoretinal eye surgery. The study examined renewed surgeries among 5,709 eye patients who were admitted to hospital for a vitreoretinal surgical procedure between 2008-2014.
The use of statin medication at the time of surgery was associated with a 28% reduction in the risk of renewed surgery among patients who underwent a primary vitrectomy to treat retinal detachment.
However, statin medication was not found to be associated with a reduced risk of renewed surgery in the other vitreoretinal disease groups involving retinal surgery, such as age-related macular pucker formation, or vitrectomies performed to treat diabetic retinopathy.
"It seems that statin treatment is beneficial in the treatment of retinal detachment, the most serious common retinal disorder which may at worst lead to blindness," says Docent Sirpa Loukovaara from the HUCH eye clinic, who led the study. "This means that systemic statin medication may be beneficial not only in the prevention of cardiovascular diseases but also in terms of eye health."
Reducing Inflammation in the Eye
The research team believes that the benefits of statin medication on retinal detachment patients is probably due to the effect of the statin medication on reducing the inflammation inside the eye and hindering the formation of scar tissue.
"Our previous work has indicated that the amount of biochemical markers related to the scar tissue formation is lower in the vitreous gel of subjects receiving statin medication than it is in the vitreous gel of control subjects without a statin, and therefore, we considered it necessary to investigate further our findings," states Loukovaara.
While the results are significant for ophthalmology, they will not directly change the treatment practices of patients who have undergone surgery for retinal detachment.
"At the moment there is no safe drug treatment that could prevent the formation of scar tissue inside the eye, so we should study the potential benefits of statins in this area. It's possible that in the future, retinal detachment patients thought to benefit from the treatment would receive statin medication as an implant or as an injection inside the eye," muses Loukovaara.
A Note on Statins
Statins is actually a family of drugs, which, though chemically nearly identical, possess small differences in their molecular structure, each being responsible for specific functions.
Six different statins are currently available by prescription:
- Women with high cholesterol have significantly lower rates of breast cancer and improved mortality. This is because, when they are prescribed with statins, it reduces the risk of breast cancer and improves survival rate.
- Statins therapy may actually cause fatty plaques inside the arteries to shrink and regression atherosclerosis in 78% of the patients.
- Statins reduce the need for angioplasty and by-pass surgery by 40%.
Statins have Side Effects
Doctors universally agree that the benefits of statins far outweigh the risks. Their side effects are widely known, and for the most part, mild. They include muscle pain (myalgia) and elevation of liver enzymes, which must be checked regularly.
For most people, moderate, tolerable doses of these wonder drugs may be sufficient in providing significant, beneficial health benefits.
- Sirpa Loukovaara, Sari Sahanne, Annika Takala, Jari Haukka. 'Statin use and vitreoretinal surgery: Findings from a Finnish population-based cohort study.' Acta Ophthalmologica (2018). doi.10.1111/aos.13641.