Treating Hyperlipidemia Lowers Diabetic Retinopathy Risk and Treatment

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Diabetic retinopathy (DR) is the primary cause of impaired vision in patients between 25 and 74 years of age. Visual loss from DR may be secondary to macular edema,  hemorrhage from new vessels, retinal detachment, or neovascular glaucoma.  DR is most commonly treated with laser photocoagulation, which is a procedure that uses a laser beam to seal leaking blood vessels, or vitrectomy, a surgical procedure that removes some of the vitreous humor, reducing macular edema. 

Clinical trials have demonstrated that fenofibrate and statins are able reduce the need for treatment of DR.  Kawasaki and colleagues recently demonstrated that fenofibrate and statins both reduce the risk of DR and need for treatment.  In an observational analysis using a health claims database, the authors identified 69,070 individuals with type 2 diabetes at baseline who were also assessed for use of lipid lowering medications.  DR developed in 5687 of these individuals over a 3 years period, and the risk of developing DR was reduced in those using lipid lowering medication  (OR, 0.772; 95% CI, 0.720‐0.827; P < .001) as were treatments for DR, including laser photocoagulation and vitrectomy in patients with DR at baseline.

Additional information about atorvastatin, fenofibrate, lovastatin, pravastatin  can be found in the Top 300 Pharmacy Drug Cards.  If you or your institution subscribes to AccessPharmacy, use or create your MyAccess Profile to sign-in to the Top 300 Pharmacy Drug Cards.  If your institution does not provide access, ask your medical librarian about subscribing.

Read more at: 

Kawasaki R, Konta T, Nishida K. Lipid-lowering medication is associated with decreased risk of diabetic retinopathy and the need for treatment in patients with type 2 diabetes: A real-world observational analysis of a health claims database. Diabetes Obes Metab. 2018 Oct;20(10):2351-2360.

Jill M. Kolesar

Professor , University of Kentucky