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Cholesterol-reducing drug could also prevent retinopathy

A drug called fenofibrate could help reduce the risk of retinopathy, the leading cause of blindness for the UK’s working age population.

The findings were revealed in a new study by the University of Sydney and presented at a meeting of the American Heart Association in Florida.

Fenofibrate has already been used in the UK for nearly thirty years as a way of controlling cholesterol levels. But new research shows that it could also help prevent retinopathy in people with Type 1 and Type 2 diabetes by as much as 30 percent.

"This is interesting research, as retinopathy is a common complication of diabetes,” said Jo Brodie, Senior Science Information Officer at Diabetes UK.

“Retinopathy can often be treated if it’s picked up early, so it’s crucial that people with diabetes have regular access to digital retinal screening in order to spot early signs of the disease. Diabetes UK has recently launched its 'Your Vision' retinopathy campaign to bring awareness to the importance of retinal screening.”

Retinopathy affects the blood vessels supplying the retina – the seeing part of the eye.  Blood vessels in the retina can become blocked, leaky or grow haphazardly. This damage gets in the way of the light passing through to the retina and if left untreated, it can severely damage vision.

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