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Taking aspirin could double risk of sight loss

19 December 2012

Taking aspirin could double risk of sight loss

Scientists have been studying the effects of regularly taking aspirin and found that taking the tablet for 10 years can more than double the risk of sight loss.

A team from the University of Wisconsin used data from a previous study, the Beaver Dam Eye Study, to analyse effects of the drug.

The study involved performing eye exams on 2,000 volunteers aged 43-86, every 5 years for a 20 year period. Participants also asked how regularly they used aspirin.  The researchers measured the occurrence of different types of AMD – wet AMD, which can cause severe vision loss, and dry AMD, which is milder but can develop into wet AMD at any time.

The results showed that there were 512 cases of dry AMD and 117 cases of wet AMD.  Those who took aspirin for 10 years had a 1.4% chance of developing wet AMD compared to 0.6%
of those not taking the drug.  No link was found between the medication and dry AMD.

Dr Barbara Klein said, “Aspirin use in the United States is widespread, with an estimated 19.3 per cent of adults reporting regular consumption, and reported use increases with age.  The results of cross-sectional studies of aspirin use and its relation to age-related macular degeneration (AMD) havebeen inconsistent.”

She went to say, “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.  Our findings are consistent with a small but statistically significant association between regular aspirin use and incidence of neovascular AMD (wet AMD).”