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Diabetic retinopathy benefits linked to statin medication

Taiwanese researchers have discovered that patients on statin medication have a reduced risk of developing diabetic retinopathy (DR) and dyslipidemia, a revelation that could provide the opportunity for earlier intervention in the condition’s progression.

The research team from Chang Gung Memorial Hospital found that statins have pleiotropic effects, based on a cohort study of around 37,894 Taiwanese patients diagnosed with type 2 diabetes and elevated cholesterol levels.

The team led by Dr Yih-Shiou Hwang conducted the population-based study using data from Taiwan’s National Health Insurance Research Database (NHIRD).

The findings, published in the journal JAMA Ophthalmology, indicated that patients taking statins had both a lower rate of DR and need for treatments, compared to those not under the prescribed medication.

When treatment was required, patients taking statins were also found to require a smaller number of interventions than those who were not. The statin patients also had lower rates of vitreous hemorrhage, tractional retinal detachment, and macular edema.

In the study, the researchers also associated statin therapy with a lower need for invasive treatments for DR, and that the benefits of statin treatments were dose-dependent.

The new study is among the first to assess statin use for the primary prevention of the eye disorder.

The findings also support past research, which highlighted the effects of statin treatment in slowing down the progression of DR in patients with diabetes and dyslipidemia.

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