Dry Macular Degeneration May Improve with High-Dose Statin Cholesterol Drug

macular degeneration -  statinSome patients with dry Age-Related Macular Degeneration (ARMD)  have vision improvements after taking high doses a statin.  The common  cholesterol-lowering drug is called Atorvastatin.  It is the statin drug used in a phase I/II clinical trial at Massachusetts Eye and Ear at Harvard Medical School and the University of Crete. A higher-than-normal dose of the drug caused lipid deposits behind the retina to dissolve in some patients.

Statin drugs are FDA approved for controlling blood cholesterol levels. The study used 80mg of atorvastatin, which is higher than the normal dose. The “dry” form of AMD is much more common than the “wet” form. However, the dry form has limited  effective medical treatments. Therefore, this study could represent a treatment using a well-known class of medications.

Macular Degeneration – Statin Link

The study strengthens the links between dry ARMD, lipids and atherosclerosis (hardening of the arteries). In AMD soft, fatty drusen build up on the outer retina. This is similar to the build-up of fats inside blood vessels in heart disease.

Macular Degeneration mostly affects senior citizens. Frequently, statin drugs control cholesterol  in middle and older ages. Prior studies found no link between users of these drugs at standard doses and the incidence of ARMD. So the researchers hypothesized that a larger dose might have an effect, and this appears to be the case.

Side-effects of statin drugs include muscle pain, and more rarely, liver damage, increased blood sugar levels and memory loss. No one should change their medication dosage without a doctor’s approval. As of May 2016, Atorvastatin has not been FDA approved for treating wet Macular Degeneration and would be considered an “off-label” use.

Study:  “Regression of Some High-risk Features of Age-related Macular Degeneration (AMD) in Patients Receiving Intensive Statin Treatment” by Demetrios G. Vavvas et. al. March 2016. Volume 5, Pages 198–203. EBio Medicine. DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.ebiom.2016.01.033

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Summary
Article Name
Dry Macular Degeneration May Improve with High-Dose Statin Cholesterol Drug
Description
Dry Age-Related Macular Degeneration patients had improvements after taking high doses of a statin drug. Lipid deposits behind the retina resolved in some of the subjects. This may represent a new treatment.
Author
This entry was posted in Atherosclerosis, High Cholesterol, Macular Degeneration on by .

About Marc_Grossman

Marc Grossman, Doctor of Optometry and New York State Licensed Acupuncturist, is a holistic eye doctor and co-author of a number of books on natural vision care. Since 1980 Dr. Grossman has been helped many people maintain healthy vision and even improve eyesight. He is dedicated to providing information to those with conditions ranging from myopia and dry eyes to potentially vision threatening diseases such as macular degeneration and glaucoma. His combined multi-disciplinary approach using nutrition, eye exercises, lifestyle changes and Chinese Medicine provides him with a wide array of tools and approaches with which to tackle difficult eye problems.