Risk of eye disease ‘reduced with common drugs for other conditions’ – study

Taking medications to control diabetes and lower cholesterol can reduce the risk of developing a common eye disease, according to a new study.

The new study, published in the British Journal of Ophthalmology, allowed researchers to bring together information from 14 studies to assess the impact of drugs on the risk of developing age-related macular degeneration (AMD).

Experts, led by a team from Bonn University Hospital in Germany, looked at studies involving nearly 40,000 people from the UK, France, Germany, Greece, Ireland, Italy, from Norway, Portugal and Russia.

The participants were all over the age of 50 and were taking at least one type of medicine to: lower cholesterol – including statins; control diabetes – including insulin; to control inflammation – excluding steroids; or a medicine to treat movement disorders caused by a neurodegenerative disease.

Some 9,332 people involved in the study were diagnosed with AMD.

Researchers found that people taking cholesterol-lowering drugs had a 15% reduced risk of developing AMD compared to those not taking the drugs.

Meanwhile, people taking medication to control diabetes appeared to have a 22% lower risk.

No such association was found for the other types of medications taken by those involved in the study.

“Our study indicates an association of systemic use of LLDs (lipid-lowering drugs) and antidiabetics with a lower prevalence of AMD in several European cohort studies,” the authors wrote.

But they stressed that more studies are needed to examine the results.

AMD is a common condition that affects the middle part of vision.

Although it does not cause total blindness, it can make activities such as reading and face recognition difficult.

The Macular Society estimates that at least 1.5 million people in the UK are affected by macular disease.

Commenting on the study, Cathy Yelf, CEO of the Macular Society, said: “This latest study is very promising news for patients with age-related macular degeneration.

“Anything that can help reduce the risk of developing this devastating disease would change the lives of so many people.

“Macular disease is the leading cause of blindness in the developed world and although it usually affects people over 55, it can also affect younger people.

“As our population ages, it is becoming more common and we urgently need to find a cure.

“The disease has a significant impact on those diagnosed, as well as their families. It is more important than ever to fund research to try to stop this disease in its tracks and we welcome any research that can bring us closer to this reality.

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