Lipid-Lowering Medications Are Associated with Lower Risk of Retinopathy and Ophthalmic Interventions among United States Patients with Diabetes


      • Statins and fibrates are associated with lower risk of diabetic retinopathy.
      • Statins and fibrates may be associated with lower risk of ophthalmic interventions.
      • These findings are consistent with those reported in smaller studies.


      To evaluate the impact of lipid-lowering medications on diabetic retinopathy and diabetic complications requiring intervention in the US population.


      Retrospective cohort analysis.


      Administrative insurance claims were drawn from the Truven MarketScan Commercial Claims and Encounters databases. Population consisted of beneficiaries with type 2 diabetes mellitus (T2DM). Main outcome measurements were any signs of diabetic retinopathy, as measured by diagnosis codes for nonproliferative diabetic retinopathy (NPDR), proliferative diabetic retinopathy (PDR), or diabetic macular edema (DME) and procedure codes for retinopathy treatments (anti-VEGF injections, laser therapy, and vitrectomy).


      A population of 269,782 patients diagnosed with T2DM between 2008 and 2015 were analyzed. A total of 99,233 patients (37%) were undergoing treatment with lipid-lowering medications. Approximately 6% of patients taking lipid-lowering medications had a diagnosis code for NPDR, PDR, or DME or a procedural code for intravitreal injections, pars plana vitrectomy (PPV) or laser treatment in their record following diagnosis with diabetes compared to 6.5% of patients who did not take lipid-lowering medications (P < 0.01). In adjusted time-to-event analyses, patients who took lipid-lowering medications prior to diagnosis of T2DM were less likely to progress to any retinopathy diagnosis (hazard ratio [HR], 0.60; 95% confidence interval [CI], 0.55-0.65) and less likely to receive any treatment for retinopathy (HR, 0.81; 95% CI, 0.78-0.84). These findings were significant at the aggregate level, at the individual level of diagnosis (NPDR HR, 0.63; 95% CI, 0.57-0.69; PDR HR, 0.45; 95% CI, 0.37-0.54; and DME HR, 0.39; 95% CI, 0.33-0.45), and at the level of each treatment category (anti-VEGF injection HR, 0.81; 95% CI, 0.78-0.84; laser HR, 0.62; 95% CI, 0.47-0.81; and vitrectomy HR, 0.71; 95% CI, 0.59-0.85).


      This study found consistent evidence that patients taking lipid-lowering medications were less likely to develop NPDR, PDR, or DME and modest evidence that these patients are less likely to receive intravitreal injections of anti-VEGF medication, laser treatments, or vitrectomy. The study validates the findings of studies that have used claims databases in East Asia in relatively homogeneous populations to estimate an association between statin use and retinopathy, replicating them in a US context in a large commercial claims database.
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