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Aspirin linked to macular degeneration but don't stop your therapy

Kathleen Blanchard's picture
Regular aspirin use linked to age-related eye disease

A new study published in the Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA) suggests there is a link between age related macular degeneration or AMD among people who regularly take aspirin that is widely prescribed to protect from heart attack and stroke. But researchers say you shouldn't stop your therapy based on the limited evidence found in the investigation.

Aspirin has also been found to give some protection against colon cancer and is regularly used to treat common painful conditions such as rheumatoid arthritis and osteoarthritis.

AMD is a leading cause of vision loss that strikes older people. The disease is progressive and affects central vision of the eye, leaving just peripheral vision intact.

For their study researchers analyzed rates of vision loss among 2,389 people who used aspirin once a week or more.

Gerald Liew, Ph.D., of the University of Sydney, Australia, and colleagues examined data from a study that included four examinations of participants during a 15-year period. Among the more than 2000 people in the investigation, 257 took aspirin on a regular basis.

After 15-years, 63 people developed the 'wet' form of AMD, the investigation found, or 24.5 percent of people taking aspirin.

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The authors note nonregular aspirin users developed AMD at a rate of 3.7 percent at 15 years compared to 9.3 percent among those who took the drug regularly.

The study authors say there isn’t enough evidence to advise people to stop taking their aspirin, but they do recommend you speak with your health care provider if you have a strong family history of the eye disease.

In an editorial that accompanies the study, Sanjay Kaul, M.D., and George A. Diamond, M.D., of Cedars-Sinai Medical Center, Los Angeles, write: “These findings are, at best, hypothesis-generating that should await validation in prospective randomized studies before guiding clinical practice or patient behavior.”

Until more studies are done, the recommendation is to “maintain the status quo” until there is definitive evidence showing aspirin use can lead to AMD.

JAMA Intern Med. Published online
January 21, 2013.

Related: New Hope for treating AMD

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