Context: Statins are widely prescribed for their lipid-lowering effects but also have putative antioxidant properties. Oxidative stress is believed to play a role in the development of nuclear cataract, but little is known regarding the relationship of statin use and cataract incidence.
Objective: To evaluate the relationship of use of statins and incident cataract in adults in a midwestern community in the United States.
Design, setting, and participants: The Beaver Dam Eye Study, an observational, longitudinal, population-based study of age-related eye disease in Beaver Dam, Wis. There were 1299 persons who were seen at the third examination in 1998-2000, had gradable photographs in both eyes, and were deemed to be at risk of developing nuclear cataract within 5 years.
Main outcome measure: Five-year incidence of cataract with respect to statin use. Cataracts were graded from photographs taken through the participant's dilated pupil.
Results: A total of 210 persons developed incident nuclear cataract in the interval from 1998-2000 to 2003-2005. Five-year incidence of nuclear cataract was 12.2% in statin users compared with 17.2% in nonusers (odds ratio [OR], 0.55; 95% confidence interval [CI], 0.36-0.84), controlling for age. When only never smokers without diabetes were assessed, the age-, lipid level-, and sex-adjusted OR was 0.40 (95% CI, 0.18-0.90). Five-year incidence of cortical cataract was 9.9% in statin users and 7.5% in nonusers (OR, 1.28; 95% CI, 0.79-2.08); posterior subcapsular cataract occurred in 3.0% of statin users and 3.4% of nonusers (OR, 0.82; 95% CI, 0.39-1.71).
Conclusion: Statin use in a general population appears to be associated with lower risk of nuclear cataract, the most common type of age-related cataract.