Age-related macular degeneration (AMD) and cardiovascular disease share multiple risk factors, which suggests that therapies that work for one may benefit the other.
Until recently, results of studies focusing on statin therapy for AMD have been mixed and inconclusive. Now, however, a small pilot study indicates that large daily doses of the statin atorvastatin (Lipitor) may block the progression of AMD for some people.
The study involved 23 people with dry (atrophic) AMD who were at high risk for advanced AMD. They were given a high dose of atorvastatin (80 mg).
After one year, 10 participants had significant reduction of drusen and improved vision scores.
Reducing drusen does not automatically reduce risk. Reduction can occur spontaneously and often precedes the development of new blood vessels behind the retina or atrophy of the retinal pigment epithelium, which leads to advanced AMD.
But by the end of the pilot study, none of the participants, regardless of reduction status, had developed wet (neovascular) AMD.
It isn’t clear why only some participants responded with reduction of drusen or whether treatment had only delayed progression rather than prevented it. AMD treatment responses vary from person to person.
Future studies with larger populations and longer follow-up are needed to confirm the benefit of statin therapy for at least some people.
Source: Ebiomedicine, Volume 5, page 198 Feb. 4, 2016