Cholesterol and Eyes

Cholesterol-lowering drugs might help reduce the impact of age-related diseases such as macular degeneration.

Research published in the Cell Metabolism Journal described both human and animal studies that show older macrophages struggle to expel cholesterol. This then leads to a reduction in their immunity role, leading to increased risk of localised inflammation and subsequent neovascular response. This may contribute to diseases as varied as cancers, arteriosclerosis, and age related macular degeneration. Drugs reducing the cholesterol presence would reduce the lipid-enhanced decline of macrophages, thereby reducing the risk of the disease.

One of the researchers, Dr Rajendra Apte, said: 'Based on our findings, we need to investigate whether vision loss caused by macular degeneration could be prevented with cholesterol-lowering eye drops or other medications that might prevent the build-up of lipids beneath the retina.'

A Spokesperson, from the RNIB said: 'Clearly this research is still at an early stage but it will be exciting to watch how it progresses and at some point cholesterol-lowering eye drops may become part of a growing army of treatments for sight-threatening eye conditions.'