Possible Treatment for Macular Degeneration

This article is from EyeSmart News, the newsletter of the American Academy of Ophthalmology.

A Possible Treatment that Helps Both Age-related Macular Degeneration and Cardiovascular Disease

Can treatments that reduce risks for cardiovascular disease (CVD) also help combat age-related macular degeneration (AMD), an eye disease that affects millions of Americans? CVD and AMD share some risk factors–such as smoking, high blood pressure, and inflammation–and a recent study found that people who have early-stage AMD are more likely to develop heart disease. Researchers recently looked at how two heart disease treatments, low-dose aspirin and statin medications, affect AMD risk.

A 10-year study of 40,000 women found that low-dose aspirin appeared to slightly reduce the risk of developing AMD. The researchers say additional large trials are needed to confirm this effect. A five-year study tested whether statin drugs could help prevent advanced AMD in people who already had early-stage symptoms. Statins are primarily used to lower cholesterol in heart patients, but also reduce inflammation, which may play a role in AMD. Though statins had no strong effect on delaying AMD progress in the 744 patients in this study, the researchers think the question deserves further exploration.


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