The long-term use of aspirin by seniors may increase the risk of developing late age-related macular degeneration (AMD), according to a new study published in the Journal of the American Medical Association.
Researchers at the University of Wisconsin School of Medicine and Public Health studied nearly 5,000 people over a twenty year period and found that regular aspirin use resulted in a 63% greater chance of developing AMD. Nearly 20% of adults in the U.S. regularly use aspirin and aspirin use increases as people grow older.
“AMD is a potentially blinding condition for which prevalence and incidence are increasing with the increased survival of the population, and regular use of aspirin is common and becoming more widespread in persons in the age range at highest risk for this disease. Therefore, it is imperative to further examine this potential association,” reported Barbara Klein, MD, of the University of Wisconsin in Madison.
Researchers used data from the Beaver Dam Eye Study, a longitudinal population-based study of age-related eye diseases. Participants were 43 to 86 years of age at the beginning of the study. Eye exams were performed every 5 years.
Patients were asked if they had regularly used aspirin at least twice a week for more than 3 months. Researchers then measured for incidences of early and late AMD, along with two subtypes of late AMD, neovascular and pure geographic atrophy.
Over the course of the study, there were 512 cases of early AMD and 117 cases of late AMD. Researchers found that regular aspirin use 10 years prior to the retinal examination was associated with a greater risk of late AMD; 1.8 % for regular aspirin users vs. 1.0 % for nonusers.
Aspirin use five or ten years prior to retinal examination was not associated with early AMD.
No relationship was found between long-term use of other non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs like ibuprofen and naproxen, and the risk of AMD.
Just what exactly causes long term aspirin use to trigger AMD is uncertain, but researchers suspect it may have something to do with aspirin’s ability to increase vascular density in lab studies.
”It is possible that in the presence of injury, aspirin encourages the growth of aberrant new vessels,” they wrote. “Our findings are consistent with a small but statistically significant association between regular aspirin use and incidence of neovascular AMD.”
Earlier this year, European researchers also found a link between aspirin use and AMD.
In that study, scientist looked at 4,700 men and women over age 65 living in Norway, Estonia, the United Kingdom, France, Italy, Greece and Spain and found that seniors who took aspirin daily to relieve pain or reduce the risk of heart disease doubled their risk of developing AMD.
SitNSleepPullAds8-19-14 Age-related macular degeneration occurs when the central portion of the retina becomes damaged due to the abnormal growth of blood vessels in the eye. Without treatment, patients can lose their central vision, leaving only peripheral or side vision.