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Aspirin: Macular Degeneration

asprin2While 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.

Posted in: Eye Health, Macular Degeneration

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