Researchers reporting in the American Journal of Ophthalmology (April 2004) have found that statins may protect older individuals from blindness. The leading cause of vision loss among the elderly is age-related macular degeneration. Some indicators of heart diseasesuch as artery damage and plaque buildup of atherosclerosishave been associated with macular degeneration.
Studies have shown that statins work well in reversing heart disease and reducing death rates, said researcher Hilary L. Wilson, MD. Because age-related macular degeneration appears to be connected with blood vessel changes, statins may affect the onset of blindness. For this study, the investigators examined the medical records of 326 patients with age-related macular degeneration. The results showed that the patients taking statins were 49% less likely to develop the more severe wet form of macular degeneration. It is caused by the growth of new blood vessels underneath the retina that disrupt vision.