Showing posts with label cataracts. Show all posts

Huge Study: Statins Associated with Cataracts, Not Dementia

statin drugs

Statin drugs are a family of medications known to reduce the risk of heart attack and death in people with cardiovascular disease. The drugs usually can be identified by the letters “statin” in their names. They include simvastatin, atorvastatin, fluvastatin, pravastatin, and rosuvastin.

Many have worried that statins might increase the risk of dementia, or cancer, or some other serious medical condition, and there have been studies that support those concerns. However, those studies are relatively small. A very large study would be necessary to truly understand the possible risks of taking statin drugs.

The British health care system provides the opportunity to gather huge amounts of data. Medical practices in England and Wales typically use electronic health records.

To look precisely at the issue of the risks of using statins, investigators collected data on almost two million people from over 300 general practices. About 225,000 people, about 10% of the subjects, were new users of one of the statin drugs. Data over five years were used.
The researchers presented their data mostly as relative risks. The five year risk of cataract in a person not using a statin was 0.0495. This means that for 100 people, about five would usually get cataract. Among people using a statin, the five year risk was about a third more, or between six and seven cases in 100 people. Put another way, treating 1000 people with a statin would produce about 19 “extra” cataract cases.

Meantime, the benefit would be a reduced risk of heart attack and sudden death. For every 100 users, about three people would be spared from a new cardiovascular event. Put another way, treating 1000 people with a statin would prevent 27 new cardiovascular cases.

Statin Use Did Not Affect Cancer Risk

There was no association with taking statin medications and the following cancers:
  • Colon cancer
  • Kidney cancer
  • Stomach cancer
  • Lung cancer
  • Melanoma
  • Breast cancer
  • Prostate cancer

Statin users had a slightly reduced risk of cancer of the esophagus.

Statin Use Associated with Liver, Kidney and Muscle Problems

A few medical conditions were associated with statin use, as previously known and expected. These were:
  • Liver dysfunction
  • Kidney failure
  • Myopathy (muscle inflammation)

Statin Use Not Associated with Osteoporosis, Parkinson’s, Blood Clots

Other conditions for which no association with statin use was found include: dementia, Parkinson’s disease, osteoporotic fractures, and rheumatoid arthritis. The risks and benefits of taking statin medications must be evaluated in light of personal goals and preferences, and in the context of frank discussion with the health care provider.

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Night Blindness: Causes and Treatment of Decreased Night Vision

night blindness

Decreased night vision is a common concern for adults over 50. Although some middle-aged adults may realize that their night vision is not as clear as it once was, others may try to deny there is a problem. Decreased night vision among older adults is especially concerning because it may affect their ability to drive after dark.

Causes of Night Vision Problems

Difficulty seeing in dim light is known as night blindness. Night blindness isn’t actually a disorder – it’s a symptom of other underlying problems. One common cause of night blindness is untreated nearsightedness or myopia. Night blindness can also have a variety of other causes, including vitamin A or zinc deficiency and exposure to the sun.

Night vision problems can be caused by chronic diseases, such as diabetes. People with diabetes often experience nerve damage, which can affect the retina and lead to night blindness. Problems specific to the eye can also cause night vision problems. For example, the first sign of cataracts is often declining night vision. Glaucoma is increased pressure in the eye and may also cause this problem. Complications of LASIK surgery can cause problems with night vision.

Diagnosis and Treatment of Night Vision Problems
Those who suffer with night vision problems should make an appointment to see an ophthalmologist. The doctor will dilate the patient’s eyes and examine them using a bright light to examine the inner parts of the eye. Other tests may also be performed. Any serious cause of night blindness can be detected through this type of exam.

Treatment for night vision problems depends upon the cause. Cataracts can be treated with surgery, and vitamin A and zinc deficiencies can easily be corrected with diet or supplements. If night blindness is caused by diabetes, tight blood sugar control may lead to improvement. For patients who have night vision problems caused by untreated myopia, corrective lenses may correct the problem.

Aging and Night Vision Problems

Night vision problems are especially common among older adults for a variety of reasons. For many older adults, vision changes happen so gradually that they go unnoticed. According to All About Vision, pupils of older people don’t allow as much light to enter the eye. The cornea and lens can become less clear. Older adults have a reduced ability to discern small differences in brightness, which can make it more difficult to see objects in dark or dim light.

More serious eye problems that are related to the aging process can cause decreased night vision. Examples include diabetic retinopathy, age-related macular degeneration, glaucoma and cataracts.

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