JOURNAL ARTICLE
REVIEW

Statins for age-related macular degeneration

Peter Gehlbach, Tianjing Li, Elham Hatef
Cochrane Database of Systematic Reviews 2015 February 11, (2): CD006927
25675254

BACKGROUND: Age-related macular degeneration (AMD) is a progressive late onset disorder of the macula affecting central vision. Age-related macular degeneration is the leading cause of blindness in people over 65 years in industrialized countries. Recent epidemiologic, genetic, and pathological evidence has shown AMD shares a number of risk factors with atherosclerosis, leading to the hypothesis that statins may exert protective effects in AMD.

OBJECTIVES: The objective of this review was to examine the effectiveness of statins compared with other treatments, no treatment, or placebo in delaying the onset and progression of AMD.

SEARCH METHODS: We searched CENTRAL (which contains the Cochrane Eyes and Vision Group Trials Register) (2014, Issue 6), Ovid MEDLINE, Ovid MEDLINE In-Process and Other Non-Indexed Citations, Ovid MEDLINE Daily, Ovid OLDMEDLINE (January 1946 to June 2014), EMBASE (January 1980 to June 2014), Latin American and Caribbean Health Sciences Literature Database (LILACS) (January 1982 to June 2014), PubMed (January 1946 to June 2014), the metaRegister of Controlled Trials (mRCT) (www.controlled-trials.com), ClinicalTrials.gov (www.clinicaltrials.gov), and the WHO International Clinical Trials Registry Platform (ICTRP) (www.who.int/ictrp/search/en). We did not use any date or language restrictions in the electronic searches for trials. We last searched the electronic databases on 5 June 2014.

SELECTION CRITERIA: We included randomized controlled trials (RCTs) that compared statins with other treatments, no treatment, or placebo in participants who were either susceptible to or diagnosed as having early stages of AMD.

DATA COLLECTION AND ANALYSIS: We used standard methodological procedures expected by The Cochrane Collaboration. Two authors independently evaluated the search results against the selection criteria, abstracted data, and assessed risk of bias. We did not perform meta-analysis due to heterogeneity in the interventions and outcomes among the included studies.

MAIN RESULTS: Two RCTs with 144 total participants met the selection criteria. Both trials compared simvastatin versus placebo in older people (> 50 or 60 years) with high risk of developing AMD (drusen present on examination). The larger trial with 114 participants was conducted in Australia and used a higher dose (40 mg daily) of simvastatin for three years. Participants and study personnel in this trial were adequately masked; however, data were missing for 30% of participants at three years follow-up. The smaller trial of 30 participants was conducted in Italy and used a lower dose (20 mg) of simvastatin for three months. This trial reported insufficient details to assess the risk of bias.Neither trial reported data for change in visual acuity. Analysis of 30 participants in the smaller trial did not show a statistically significant difference between the simvastatin and placebo groups in visual acuity values at three months of treatment (decimal visual acuity 0.21 ± 0.56 in simvastatin group and 0.19 ± 0.40 in placebo group) or 45 days after the completion of treatment (decimal visual acuity 0.20 ± 0.50 in simvastatin group and 0.19 ± 0.48 in placebo group). The lack of a difference in visual acuity was not explained by lens or retina status, which remained unchanged during and after the treatment period for both groups.Preliminary analyses of 42 participants who had completed 12 months follow-up in the larger trial did not show a statistically significant difference between simvastatin and the placebo groups for visual acuity, drusen score, or visual function (effect estimates and confidence intervals were not available). Complete data for these outcomes at three years follow-up were not reported. At three years, the effect of simvastatin in slowing progression of AMD compared with placebo was uncertain (odds ratio 0.51, 95% confidence interval 0.23 to 1.09).One trial did not report adverse outcomes. The second trial reported no difference between groups in terms of adverse events such as death, muscle aches, and acute hepatitis.

AUTHORS' CONCLUSIONS: Evidence from currently available RCTs is insufficient to conclude that statins have a role in preventing or delaying the onset or progression of AMD.

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