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High Cholesterol Could Increase Glaucoma Risk

May 08, 2019

Increasing cholesterol levels may be associated with increased risk of primary open-angle glaucoma (POAG), according to the results of a recent study.

Previous research has suggested that statin use may be associated with lower risk of POAG, but results have been mixed, according to the researchers.

In order to further examine the relationship between cholesterol levels and statin use with the incidence of POAG, they conducted a study involving participants from the Nurses’ Health Study (N=50,710), the Nurses’ Health Study 2 (N=62,922), and the Health Professionals Follow-up Study (N=23,080). All participants were aged 40 years or older and were free of glaucoma.

Among the 136,782 total participants, 886 incident cases of POAG were identified, and for every 20-mg/dl increase in total serum cholesterol, the risk of POAG rose 7% (relative risk [RR] 1.07). However, any self-reported statin use was associated with a 15% lower risk of POAG (RR 0.85). Use of statins for 5 or more years vs never use was associated with a 21% lower risk of POAG.

“Among adults aged 40 years or older, higher serum cholesterol levels were associated with higher risk of POAG, while 5 or more years of statin use compared with never use of statins was associated with a lower risk of POAG.” 

—Michael Potts


Kang JH, Boumenna T, Stein JD, et al. Association of statin use and high serum cholesterol levels with risk of primary open-angle glaucoma [published online May 2, 2019]. JAMA Ophthalmol. doi:10.1001/jamaophthalmol.2019.0900

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