Cholesterol-lowering drops could treat eye disease

Posted Apr 11, 2013 by Tim Sandle
According to researchers in the U.S., eye drops intended to lower cholesterol may be able to hinder macular degeneration, which leads to blindness.
According to Science Daily, the macula in the eye is essential for recognizing fine detail, such as recognizing people's faces, driving and reading. Degeneration of it becomes more common with age (age-related macular degeneration (AMD)). It begins with what is known as a "dry" form, where the eye's light-sensory cells become damaged, but this can progress into the much more threatening "wet" variant, when newly forming blood vessels can quickly result in blindness.
The disease is thought to be related to the immune response where cells, which normally fight infection (macrophages) start to leave dangerous fatty deposits.
The research, according to the BBC, was based on studies in mice and it found that developing eye drops that lowered cholesterol hindered fat cell build up under the retina and could thus prevent macular degeneration.
The research is clearly still in its early stages but it could lead to the development of a new cure. The lead researcher, Professor Rajendra Apte is quoted by the Daily Mail as saying: ‘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 fats beneath the retina.’
The research was conducted at the Washington University School of Medicine and the results have been published in the Cell Metabolism journal in an article titled “Impaired Cholesterol Efflux in Senescent Macrophages Promotes Age-Related Macular Degeneration.”