Aspirin: Macular Degeneration

Bottle of pillsWhile many health conditions can be treated with a daily dose of aspirin, macular degeneration could be an unfortunate side effect about which patients should be aware. Aspirin is one of the oldest known pain relievers, and, as such, has long been prescribed in daily dosage for people with heart trouble. In addition, the American Diabetes Association recommends aspirin therapy for diabetes patients over the age of 40, and daily aspirin can lower the risk of colon cancer. Recent studies suggest, however, that daily aspirin may increase the risk of macular degeneration, particularly
in elderly patients.

In an analysis of almost 5000 subjects, ages 65 and older, Dutch researchers found a strong link between aspirin use and the development of a severe form of age-related macular degeneration, known as wet AMD. Subjects who took aspirin daily had more than twice the risk of developing wet AMD than non-users. Though more research is needed, particularly to determine the dosage at which aspirin poses a higher risk, the data does seem to contraindicate aspirin usage in older people.

This is not to say that aspirin causes vision loss; however, the concern is that the condition may be exacerbated in older people by frequent dosage. Given the large number of seniors who take daily aspirin for heart disease or other health concerns, this could be a problem. Study subjects who took aspirin daily had a 4 percent instance of wet macular degeneration, which is caused by leaking blood vessels in the eyes. Aspirin does not seem to be connected to the dry form of the disease, or to earlier stages of eye disease.

Though research indicates that aspirin can contribute to vision loss, there are cases in which aspirin is still warranted. For those with cardiovascular disease, aspirin’s benefits may outweigh the risks, since it has been shown to prevent further cardiovascular decline. For those whose lives may be risked by ceasing to take aspirin, it is recommended that they continue the dosage, because vision is secondary to overall health. For those people whose doctors strongly recommend aspirin, macular degeneration may not be enough of a reason to stop taking it.

If you have questions about your eye health, or are experiencing trouble with your vision, it is important to seek timely advice from an eye care professional. Key Whitman has been a recognized leader in the eye care field for over 50 years. Visit their website to learn more about how their experienced group of board-certified physicians can help you.