Cholesterol-lowering drug may reduce progression of diabetic retinopathy

Researchers found that fenofibrate reduced the risk of disease progression by 27%

Pink tablets are contained in a blister pack
Pixabay/Michal Jarmoluk

A new study coordinated by Oxford Population Health has highlighted the potential of a drug commonly used to lower cholesterol in reducing the risk of diabetic eye disease progression.

The results of the Lowering Events in Non-proliferative retinopathy in Scotland (LENS) trial were described in The New England Journal of Medicine Evidence.

Through the trial, 1151 patients from the diabetic eye screening programme in Scotland were randomly assigned to receive a daily tablet of 145-mg fenofibrate or a placebo tablet.

The study found that taking fenofibrate reduced progression of diabetic retinopathy compared with those taking the placebo among participants with early retinal changes.

Those in the intervention group had a 27% lower risk of needing to be referred to specialist care for diabetic retinopathy over four years compared to those assigned the placebo.

Lead author and associate professor at Oxford Population Health, Dr David Preiss, highlighted that diabetic retinopathy remains a leading cause of visual loss.

“We need simple strategies that can be widely used to reduce the progression of diabetic eye disease. Fenofibrate may therefore provide a valuable addition to treat people with early to moderate diabetic retinopathy,” he said.