SRxA’s Word on Health has frequently reported on the health benefits of aspirin. So we were more than a little shocked to read a new study in JAMA Internal Medicine which suggested that people who regularly use aspirin may be at increased risk of age-related macular degeneration [AMD]. This eye condition is common among people age 50 and older and is a leading cause of vision loss in older adults. AMD gradually destroys the macula, the part of the eye that provides the sharp, central vision needed for seeing objects clearly.
In some people, AMD advances so slowly that vision loss does not occur for a long time. In others, the disorder progresses faster and may lead to a loss of vision in one or both eyes. The vision loss makes it difficult to recognize faces, drive a car, read, or do close work, such as sewing.
But don’t go tossing out your Bayer’s just yet!
Of nearly 2,400 elderly people studied over a 15-year period, 10% were regular aspirin users. Of that group, 25% developed macular degeneration over that time frame, compared to 9% who developed it but were non-aspirin users.
While these results were statistically significant, more research needs to be done before recommending that patients stop taking doctor recommended aspirin. Despite their results, even the researchers admit that there’s just not enough evidence to support stopping aspirin therapy unless a person already has strong risk factors for age-related macular degeneration.
Ophthalmologist Justis Ehlers, MD, agrees, “Aspirin has clearly been shown to have good secondary prevention for different cardiovascular diseases. We need to sort this out over time to see what it means.”