Receiving statin treatment for five years or more is associated with a 21% reduced risk of primary glaucoma, research published in JAMA Ophthalmology has shown (2 May 2019)
The study took data on self-reported serum cholesterol levels and statin use from three large cohort studies on a total of 136,782 people (113,702 of whom are women) aged 40 years and over. Over 1,485,498 person-years’ follow-up there were 886 cases of incident primary open-angle glaucoma (POAG).
Each 20mg/dL increase in total serum cholesterol was associated with a 7% increased risk of POAG. People with any history of statin use had a 15% lower risk of POAG compared with never users, and those with at least five years’ statin use had a 21% lower risk.
The researchers said the mechanism behind these findings would require additional research, but added that in vitro studies had suggested statins may lower intraocular pressure and have neuroprotective mechanisms.
“As high cholesterol and statin use have been associated with other neurodegenerative diseases, the interrelationships between cholesterol, glaucoma and these outcomes is also fertile ground for further scientific inquiry,” said lead author Jae Hee Kang, an associate epidemiologist at Harvard Medical School, Massachusetts.
 Kang J, Boumenna T, Stein J et al. Association of statin use and high serum cholesterol levels with risk of primary open-angle glaucoma. JAMA Ophthalmol 2019;137(7):756–765. doi: 10.1001/jamaophthalmol.2019.0900