staff (2014). "Medical gallery of Blausen Medical 2014". WikiJournal of Medicine 1 (2). DOI:10.15347/wjm/2014.010. ISSN 2002-4436. Illustration depicting diabetic retinopathy

Diabetes: Study Find Statins Protect Against Vision Loss Interview with: staff (2014). "Medical gallery of Blausen Medical 2014". WikiJournal of Medicine 1 (2). DOI:10.15347/wjm/2014.010. ISSN 2002-4436. Illustration depicting diabetic retinopathy

Illustration depicting diabetic retinopathy

Eugene Yu-Chuan Kang, MD.
House Staff,
Department of Ophthalmology
Chang Gung Memorial Hospital
Chang Gung University, School of Medicine What is the background for this study?


Response: More and more patients suffered from diabetes mellitus (DM) around the world, as well diabetic complications such as diabetic retinopathy (DR). DR is one of the major causes of blindness in working-age adults. In addition to the cost of treatment for patients with advanced DR, loss of visual function also yields a great burden to the family and society. For advanced DR, surgical interventions such as retinal laser, intravitreal injection, and vitrectomy are needed. However, those surgical interventions for severe DR can only retard or stop disease progression. If DR can be prevented or slowed by medical treatments, the burden of medical costs for treating severe DR may be decreased.

Statin, an HMG-CoA reductase inhibitor, was discussed frequently in the recent years. Multiple functions of statins besides their lipid lowering effect were discovered. Previous investigations have reported that statin therapy could reduce mortality rate and decrease risk of cardiovascular diseases.

In our study, we wanted to figure out if statin therapy may have any association between diabetic retinopathy. What are the main findings?

Response: Our study demonstrated that statin therapy can prevent the development and slow the progression of diabetic retinopathy in patient with type 2 DM and dyslipidemia. For patients with advanced diabetic retinopathy requiring treatment, statin therapy was associated with a decreased needs and number of surgical interventions. We also found that patients with high medical adherence to statin and high stat intensity had a lower risk of DR and diabetic retinopathy progression.

This finding confirmed again that statin therapy was associated with a possible protecting effect on diabetic retinopathy. What should readers take away from your report?

Response: From our study, the result showed that statin therapy was associated with reduced risk of diabetic retinopathy. As an ophthalmologist and a medical doctor, we should not only monitor patient’s ophthalmic illness but also control their systemic condition. For patient with DM and dyslipidemia, statin therapy is recommended for decreasing serum lipid level and reducing the risk of DR. Higher statin intensity is suggested if there’s no contraindication. Our finding can also offer a motivation for patient to have a better medical compliance. What recommendations do you have for future research as a result of this work?

Response: This study was conducted based on a national database. The retrospective nature may limit evidence level of our findings. For future research, a randomized control trial is recommended to have the most robust conclusion. Is there anything else you would like to add? 

Response: The study was supported by Chang Gung Memorial Hospital Research Grant only. No commercial or governmental groups were included. 


Kang EY, Chen T, Garg SJ, et al. Association of Statin Therapy With Prevention of Vision-Threatening Diabetic Retinopathy. JAMA Ophthalmol. Published online January 10, 2019. doi:10.1001/jamaophthalmol.2018.6399


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Last Updated on January 13, 2019 by Marie Benz MD FAAD