In the largest study to examine therelationship between clinically major macularedema and blood cholesterol levels,Harvard researchers found that aggressivetreatment to reduce high cholesterollevels in patients with type 1 diabetesmay protect their vision and cardiovascularhealth. For the study, the researchersevaluated data from the Diabetes Controland Complications Trial. The trial included1441 participants who were followedfor an average of 6.5 years and had theircholesterol levels checked annually.
The results of the study showed thatindividuals with the highest levels of low-densitylipoprotein (LDL; "bad") cholesterolhad 2 times the risk of developingmacular edema, or fluid in the macula ofthe eye, compared with those with thelowest LDL levels. The participants withthe highest ratio of total cholesterol tohigh-density lipoprotein (HDL; "good")cholesterol had a 4-fold increased risk ofthe vision problem.
The researchers concluded that highcholesterol, particularly the total-to-HDLcholesterol ratio, is a risk factor for clinicallysignificant macular edema. The findings,reported in Diabetes (November2004), may also add support to currenttreatment guidelines that suggest aggressivelowering of high cholesterol inpatients with diabetes.