Cataract Lens Problems? Blame Your Cholesterol Lowering Drug

We’re visual creatures; eyesight is critical to us. Cataract lens problems disrupt vision, so if a common drug ups your risk of cataracts, this is important.

I’m not going to ramble on and on about how ineffective statins are at preventing heart attacks (you have to treat 1,000 for 5 years to prevent 11 heart attacks).  Or about the long litany of side effects (diabetes, heart problems, muscle problems, liver problems).

But I do want to take this opportunity to illuminate the attitude of medicine and medical researchers today when it comes to your health.

This particular study finds a disturbing link between statins and your eye health:

  1. 56% of those with type 2 diabetes took statins
  2. Type 2 diabetic had an 86% higher risk of developing cataracts (not new news)
  3. Statin use increased the risk of developing age related cataracts by 57%

So, diabetics are at a much greater risk of developing cataracts.  The risk of developing diabetes is actually increased with the use of statin drugs like Lipitor and Crestor.  Statin drugs, by themselves, increase the risk of cataracts.

In summary, cholesterol lowering drugs increase your risk of both cataracts and developing diabetes and, if you’re lucky enough to be a diabetic (possibly from your Lipitor) AND on a statin, you can begin to SEE a problem.

But here’s where it gets interesting (or rather, MORE interesting–because you were already on the edge of your seat…).

Dr Richard Karas of the Tufts University School of Medicine commented on, “Without belittling the development of cataracts, which he added are a “life-altering event,” MI, stroke, and diabetes are nevertheless significantly more damaging to health and quality of life.”

In other words, it’s ok if vision loss disrupts your quality of life and ability to drive because preventing a stroke or heart attack is much more important.

All this from a drug, that, to put it in medical terms, sucks.

It’s not like this is a miracle drug saving lives in droves.  Less than 1 in 100 people who take the drug will see a benefit in 3+ years.  I just don’t understand mainstream medicine’s dedication to such a near-worthless drug with an increasing litany of side effects.

The attitude is so pervasive that academia and physicians everywhere think that developing diabetes, losing your eyesight, developing rheumatoid arthritis and muscle weakness are acceptable costs for a modicum of prevention against heart attacks.

So, knowing the small benefits and the growing list of concerns with this class of drugs, was this a factor in your deciding not to take statins when offered by your physician?

James Bogash

For more than a decade, Dr. Bogash has stayed current with the medical literature as it relates to physiology, disease prevention and disease management. He uses his knowledge to educate patients, the community and cyberspace on the best way to avoid and / or manage chronic diseases using lifestyle and targeted supplementation.