No miracle cure for dry AMD
A look behind the headlines at reports that cholesterol-lowering statins improve vision
If you’ve got an interest in age-related macular degeneration (AMD), you probably picked up on the weekend’s headlines about a ‘miracle cure’.
The Daily Express and others reported that the drug atorvastatin can improve vision in people with dry AMD. The drug is a type of statin – widely available medication prescribed to lower cholesterol. This would be wonderful news if true. AMD is one of the UK’s leading causes of sight loss in older people and we all want to see a cure.
But in this case we need to sound a note of caution before getting our hopes up. The story was based on research results from a very small study published in the journal EBioMedicine. Although the results could be promising, the way the research was done makes it impossible to know at this stage whether atorvastatin helps or not.
NHS Choices has put together an excellent breakdown of how the research was carried out and what the results really mean. It’s worth reading in detail, but these are some key points:
- There were mixed results – some people’s vision got better, most people’s vision continued to get worse
- Where vision got better, it could have been down to chance
- The researchers themselves say that larger studies are needed to confirm the results
This is not the first time AMD has been linked to statins. Previous research has suggested that taking statins may lower the risk of getting AMD for people over the age of 68. But most studies have found no link. We’ll be keeping an eye on any future research developments and will let you know if the situation changes.
There may not be a cure for AMD yet, but we are working on it. Take a look at some of our latest AMD research projects.
How do connections in the retina re-wire after damage to the light-sensors?
Laying the groundwork for successful stem cell transplants.
Preventing or reversing age-related blindness electrically
Exploring a new approach to preventing sight loss from AMD