Aspirin May Cause Age-Related Vision Problems

Daily aspirin may worsen macular degeneration

(RxWiki News) A daily dose of aspirin may worsen vision problems in people who have age-related macular degeneration (AMD). Researchers found that seniors who take an aspirin a day are twice as likely to have late-stage macular degeneration compared to seniors who don’t take aspirin every day.

Macular degeneration is an age-related disease and gradually destroys sharp, central vision - the part of the eye that enables you to read and drive.

In the study, 839 senior patients took aspirin daily, and 36 – or four out of every 100 – of these patients had an advanced form of the disease called “wet” macular degeneration. Seniors who took aspirin less frequently were less likely to develop wet macular degeneration, occurring in only two out of every 100 non-daily aspirin users.

"Daily doses of aspirin could hurt your vision. "

Wet macular degeneration is swelling caused by leaking blood vessels in the back of the eye. “Dry” macular degeneration is the more common type of AMD and occurs in early stages of the disease. The study showed no link between aspirin and dry macular degeneration.

Many seniors take aspirin on a daily basis to prevent cardiovascular disease. Researchers are still investigating whether cardiovascular disease might also be contributing to vision loss in seniors with AMD. Lead researcher Paulus de Jong told Reuters health that people who take aspirin to slow cardiovascular disease should continue with aspirin therapy, since the benefit of cardiovascular health outweighs the risk of vision loss.

"Patients should not stop taking aspirin without first discussing it with their primary care and eye doctors," says Dr. Christopher Quinn, an optometrist at Robert Wood Johnson University Hospital in New Brunswick, N.J.

Macular degeneration is a leading cause of blindness in the U.S. and affects 1.8 million Americans 40 years and older, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

The study was conducted by the Netherlands Institute for Neuroscience and Academic Medical Center and tracked 4,700 people age 65 and older. All patients were of Norwegian, Estonian, British, French, Italian, Greek and Spanish descent.

This clinical study was published in the journal Ophthalmology

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Review Date: 
October 3, 2011