Statins May Help Prevent Diabetic Retinopathy

Statin therapy may be oculo-protective in patients with type 2 diabetes and dyslipidemia, new research suggests.


A recent study of 37,894 Taiwanese adults with both type 2 diabetes and dyslipidemia found that statin use was associated with lower rates of diabetic retinopathy—the number-one cause of blindness in working adults and a leading microvascular complication of diabetes—compared with non-use (hazard ratio [HR] 0.86).


Of the 18,947 patients in each group, 2004 statin users went on to develop diabetic retinopathy compared with 2269 non-users (10.6% vs 12.0%).


In particular, compared with the non-statin group, patients using statins experienced lower rates of:


  • Nonproliferative diabetic retinopathy (HR 0.92)
  • Proliferative diabetic retinopathy (HR 0.64)
  • Vitreous hemorrhage (HR 0.62)
  • Tractional retinal detachment (HR 0.61)
  • Macular edema (HR 0.60)


Statin use was also associated with lower rates and smaller numbers of:


  • Retinal laser treatment (HR 0.71; rate ratio 0.61)
  • Intravitreal injection (HR 0.74; rate ratio: 0.68)
  • Vitrectomy (HR 0.58; rate ratio 0.54)


The risks of major adverse cardiovascular events, new-onset diabetic neuropathy, and new-onset diabetic foot ulcers were also found to be reduced in statin users vs non-users (HR 0.81, 0.85, and 0.73, respectively.


These findings were published in JAMA Ophtalmology.


—Christina Vogt



Kang EYC, Chen TH, Garg SJ, et al. Association of statin therapy with prevention of vision-threatening diabetic retinopathy [Published online January 10, 2019]. JAMA Ophthalmol. doi:10.1001/jamaophthalmol.2018.6399.