Type 2 Diabetes – Fat-Lowering Drugs Help Lower the Risk of Diabetic Retinopathy

In clinical trials, fenofibrate and several other fat-lowering drugs were linked to a lowered risk of developing diabetic retinopathy, a severe eye condition. In a study reported in May of 2018 in the journal Diabetes, Obesity, and Metabolism, similar results were found in patients who had been treated outside of clinical trials.

Scientists at the Yamagata University of Medicine and other research institutions in Japan and Denmark examined insurance claims over three years. A total of 5,687 out of 69,070 people with Type 2 diabetes developed diabetic retinopathy…

  • those who were being treated with fat-lowering drugs had about a 23 percent lower risk of diabetic retinopathy than those not treated with this type of medication, and
  • those taking fat-lowering drugs were less likely to need photocoagulation or vitrectomy, two diabetic retinopathy treatments.

Photocoagulation uses laser beams to destroy weak, abnormal blood vessels inside the eye. The abnormal blood vessels are formed as a result of high levels of blood sugar in Type 2 diabetes.

Vitrectomy is a surgical procedure involving the removal of some of the gel inside the eye when abnormal blood vessels have bled into it, causing blood to obscure vision.

Fenofibrate, a prescription medication, is also known by several brand names. Fenofibrate works by raising the level of an enzyme that breaks down fat molecules in the blood. It is also used to lower LDL or “bad” cholesterol and fats known as triglycerides, and to increase the levels of HDL or “good” cholesterol. It is thought to decrease the risk of pancreatic disease and may reduce the risk of stroke. Lowering the risk of retinopathy in itself is a desirable goal. Below is a list of brand names for fenofibrate…

  • Tricor,
  • Triglide,
  • Fenoglide,
  • Antara,
  • Lipofen, and
  • Lofibra.

Other ways of lowering LDL and triglyceride levels include

  • preventing or controlling Type 2 diabetes,
  • maintaining a healthy lean weight,
  • eating a low-fat, low cholesterol diet,
  • performing physical activity, and by
  • avoiding smoking.

Dietary cholesterol is present in all animal products that contain saturated fats which could be why vegan and vegetarian eating plans are so helpful for controlling Type 2 diabetes. A diet rich in…

  • vegetables,
  • fruits,
  • nuts,
  • legumes, and
  • whole grains

can help keep cholesterol levels low. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) in Atlanta, United States, recommends 2.5 hours of moderate-intensity exercise each week. Some examples of moderate-intensity physical activity are…

  • brisk walking,
  • cycling below 10 miles per hour, and
  • ballroom dancing.

Cholesterol is tested as part of a lipid profile. Cholesterol levels typically rise in the winter and fall a little in the summer.