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Cholesterol drugs may save your vision

health and fitness Updated: Apr 04, 2013 00:42 IST
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Eye drops designed to lower cholesterol may be able to prevent one of the most common forms of blindness in the aged, a new study led by Indian-origin scientist has found.

Targeting cholesterol metabolism in the eye might help prevent a severe form of age-related macular degeneration (AMD), according to indications in a mice study led by Rajendra Apte, a professor of ophthalmology and vision sciences at Washington University in St Louis.

Cholesterol build-up in arteries and veins, or atherosclerosis, occurs as a natural consequence of ageing. Likewise, in AMD, cholesterol is known to accumulate in the eye.

The study, published in Cell Metabolism, shows large cells called macrophages appear to play a key role in clearing cholesterol from the eye, and that with ageing, these cells become less efficient at this task.

Eye drops containing a type of drug known to promote cholesterol release from macrophages, called a liver X receptor agonist, helped restore macrophage function and prevent AMD progression.