Study links aspirin use with age-related macular degeneration

Sources: ABC News; Journal of the American Medical Association 

A recent study has shown a link between regular aspirin use and an increased risk of age-related macular degeneration.

The study followed nearly 2,400 Australians ages 49 and older and found that those routinely using aspirin were more likely to develop one form of macular degeneration, which causes vision loss.

In the study, retinal examinations were conducted every five years. Researchers found that the risk of neovascular, or “wet,” macular degeneration increased with reported aspirin use. Incidence of the disease was 2.2 percent in nonusers versus 2.9 percent in occasional users and 5.8 percent in routine users. (No link was found between aspirin and the more common, or “dry,” form of macular degeneration.)

Data also showed that the risk was four times greater in people with cardiovascular disease, a condition for which an aspirin regimen is a common -- and effective -- treatment. The study’s authors looked at the influence of other some health conditions, as well as other medications often taken by aspirin users, and found no link.

The study’s authors warn, however, that the evidence is not sufficient to prove that taking aspirin causes macular degeneration. Authors pointed out that the risk was relatively small (under 4 percent over 15 years) and stressed that the benefits of aspirin use are likely to outweigh the risks, except for people at very high risk for macular degeneration.