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Common diabetes drug can protect against age-related macular degeneration, research shows

Published on 31/10/18 at 12:02pm

A Taiwanese research team has demonstrated a link between the use of the common diabetes medication metformin and significantly lower rates of age-related macular degeneration (AMD) – the leading cause of blindness in Americans over 50 – in type 2 diabetes patients.

The findings suggest that the drug’s anti-inflammatory and anti-oxidative effects can have a preventative influence over the development of AMD, an eye condition which affects around 2.1 million worldwide and is characterised by damage to the retina’s macula, leading to the loss of central vision essential to tasks such as reading and driving.

To reach these conclusions, the researchers analysed data from the Taiwan National Health Insurance Research Database on type 2 diabetes patients diagnosed between January 2001 and December 2013. Of these 68,205 patients, they were then divided into two groups: 45,524 who took metformin, and 22,681 that did not.

Presented at the 122nd Annual Meeting of the American Academy of Ophthalmology, the research found that half as many patients were affected by AMD in the metformin group compared to those in the control group.

"Our study is the first to reveal the protective effect of metformin on the development of AMD," said lead investigator Yu-Yen Chen. "While more study is required to determine just how metformin protects against the development of AMD, this is an exciting development for patients at risk."

Matt Fellows

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