Statin-type cholesterol-lowering drugs such as atorvastatin, lovastatin and simvastatin are widely prescribed to reduce the risk for heart disease. Even though such medications have been used for decades, researchers are still uncovering new information about complications.
Analysis of data from a military healthcare database in San Antonio, Texas, demonstrates that people taking statins were 27 percent more likely to develop cataracts, even after adjusting for other risk factors. The researchers compared roughly 7,000 statin users who took their cholesterol-lowering drug for at least 3 months to nonusers.
Some researchers have hypothesized that reducing cholesterol synthesis in the lens of the eye may contribute to cataracts since the lens requires cholesterol to maintain transparency. The authors urge clinicians to consider the possible risks of statins, including cataracts, when they assess whether a statin should be used to try to protect a patient from an initial heart attack.
Patients who are reluctant to take statins may wish to employ non-drug approaches to reducing the likelihood of developing heart disease. You can learn more about this in our Guide to Cholesterol Control and Heart Health.