Wednesday, June 4, 2014

Macular Degeneration Risk Increased with Aspirin

While aspirin is one of the most widely used over the counter medications, patients should be aware that the regular use of aspirin can increase the risk of age related macular degeneration (AMD). Aspirin use is widespread because it is an effective remedy for headaches, body aches, fever and millions of people at high risk of heart attack due to atherosclerosis use daily aspirin therapy as a preventative measure, thanks to aspirin’s anticoagulant properties.

The Beaver Dam Eye Study followed nearly 5,000 participants for more than 20 years performing eye examinations every five years. At each exam, participants were asked if they had regularly used aspirin at least twice a week for more than three months. Researchers found that regular aspirin use 10 years prior to eye examination was associated with late AMD, with estimated incidence of 1.76 percent, compared to 1.03 percent in non-aspirin users. Researchers concluded that these associations, though small, were statistically significant. Even more significant was that regular aspirin use 10 years prior to eye examination was significantly associated with the “Wet” form of AMD, which accounts for 10 percent of all AMD cases, but is responsible for the majority of catastrophic vision attributed to the disease.

Further, data from a 15-year Australian population-based cohort had participants complete a detailed questionnaire that assessed aspirin use, heart disease status and AMD risk factors. In addition, they received four eye examinations during the 15-year study period. After analyzing the data regular aspirin users developed wet AMD—at a rate of 24.5 percent! Even after adjusting for other risk factors like age, sex, smoking, history of heart disease and body mass index, regular aspirin users still had a higher risk of developing Wet AMD. Researchers concluded, “Regular aspirin use is associated with increased risk of incident neovascular [Wet] AMD, independent of history of cardiovascular disease and smoking.”

If you’re a regular aspirin user, you should get a thorough eye exam as soon as possible to determine your AMD status. Please feel free to call Northwest Indiana Eye & Laser Center at 219-464-8223, or visit Northwest Indiana Eye & Laser Center or

Northwest Indiana Eye & Laser Center offices are located at 522 Marquette Street, Valparaiso, Indiana 46383 and 1001 South Edgewood Drive, Knox, Indiana 46354.