Lipitor (atorvastatin) patients may be at risk of cataracts, which causes progressive vision loss and blindness. Although treatment for cataracts is usually effective, it can be very expensive and debilitating. Pfizer, the manufacturer of Lipitor, is now facing a growing number of Lipitor lawsuits from plaintiffs who allege that they did not adequately warn about side effects.
UPDATE: Another Study Links Statins and 30% Increased Risk of Cataracts
December 8, 2014 — The Canadian Journal of Cardiology has published a new study adding more evidence that cholesterol-lowering statins, such as Lipitor, could increase a person’s risk of cataracts by nearly 30%. Click here to read more
Lipitor (atorvastatin) is prescribed to help people with high cholesterol reduce their risk of heart attacks and strokes. It works by preventing the liver from making low-density lipoprotein (LDL or “bad” cholesterol). Unfortunately, this may also cause side effects in other areas of the body. Epithelial cells in the lens of the eye need cholesterol to maintain transparency. Cholesterol-lowering statins, such as Lipitor, may interfere with the natural healing, re-building, and repair processes, which could lead to cataracts.
Studies of Lipitor and Cataracts
JAMA Ophthalmology published a study of Lipitor and cataracts in September 2013. After analyzing data on 13,626 statin-users and 32,623 non-users, they found a 27% increased risk of cataracts from Lipitor and other statins. The data contradicted previous studies, which suggested Lipitor might have an antioxidant effect and protect eye health.
Lipitor Cataracts Lawsuit Filed in West Virginia
In November 2013, the West Virginia Record reported that a lawsuit was filed by a woman who developed type-2 diabetes and cataracts after taking Lipitor. The plaintiff, Charlotte T. Kearnes of Martinsburg, West Virginia, alleges that Lipitor caused cataracts in both of her eyes, and she needed surgery to treat the condition. According to her lawyer:
“As a result of her diabetes, Ms. Kearnes has developed vision loss so severe that she had to have cataract surgery in both of her eyes. Ms. Kearnes is now also at a markedly increased risk of heart disease, neuropathy, and blindness as a result of her diabetes.”
What is Cataracts?
Cataracts is the most common cause of vision loss and blindness, especially among older adults. It is caused by protein build-up on the lens of the eye, which gradually makes the lens cloudy and prevents light from entering the eye.
Symptoms of Cataracts
- Vision becomes progressively cloudy, foggy, blurry, or dim
- Increasing problems seeing at night
- Problems driving at night due to glare from headlights
- Sensitivity to light
- Double vision
- Changes in color perception (yellowing or fading of colors)
- Lights have “halos”
Treatment for Cataracts
Every year, millions of Americans undergo surgical treatment for cataracts. This surgery is typically performed while the patient is awake but anesthetized. The surgeon removes the cataract lens from the patient’s eye and replaces it with a clear implant. This implant is permanent.