Those taking the low-cost medication could be 27 per cent more likely to develop the condition, which leads to cloudy lenses, the researchers discovered.

Older people are particularly vulnerable as they make up the majority of statin users and cataract patients, the Daily Mail reported.

The medical records of more than 14,000 people, covering a period of more than eight years, were examined by researchers in the US.

Half of the patients had used statins for at least three months and the other half had never taken the drug.

Those who took statins had a 27 per cent increased risk of developing cataracts, which require surgery to prevent blindness, even when other factor such as high blood pressure were accounted for.

The researchers believe that one explanation could be that cholesterol is necessary to maintain healthy cells in the eye and the transparency of the lens.

The authors of the study, published in journal JAMA Ophthalmology, concluded: "The risk for cataract is increased among statin users as compared with non-users. The risk-benefit ratio of statin use, specifically for primary prevention, should be carefully weighed, and further studies are warranted."

Statins are one of the most widely prescribed drugs in the UK, taken by more than eight million Britons.

They are currently prescribed to patients with at least a 20 per cent risk of having a heart attack or stroke within ten years.

A team from Oxford University concluded that the benefits of statins outweigh the side effects after they found they cut by at least a third the risk of heart attacks, strokes and operations to unblock arteries.

All patients in the trials, which involved 175,000 people, had a positive reaction to the drug and even healthy people given statins had lower overall death rates than those who were given a placebo.

The findings have even led to calls for statins to be prescribed to everyone over the age of 50, but the latest research casts doubt on the recommendation.

Earlier research on the link between the drugs and cataracts has provided mixed results.

Around one in three people over 65 develop cataracts, and 341,000 operations were carried out last year on the NHS.

As well as cataracts, statins have been linked to an increased risk of type 2 diabetes, constipation, diarrhoea, headaches, loss of appetite and loss of sensation or pain in the nerve endings of the hands and feet.

The Medicines and Healthcare Regulatory Products Agency has warned about the risk of sleep disturbances, memory loss, sexual dysfunction, depression and certain lung diseases.