A new study has found that use of Aspirin for ten years or longer can raise the risk of losing eyesight.
The study was conducted by researchers from University of Wisconsin School of Medicine and Public Health. They found that use of aspirin was associated with a small, but significant rise in the risk of neovascular age-related macular degeneration (AMD).
AMD is detected by the presence of 'drusen' which are recognized during an eye exam as yellowish deposits in the macula. Macula is the central region of the retina; a delicate membrane that acts like a screen reflecting the light in the eye. AMD can either be 'dry' or 'wet' depending upon the formation of blood vessels. The wet form of AMD or the neovascular AMD is an advanced stage where the photoreceptor cells are irreversibly damaged. Only about 10% of all cases of AMD are wet type, according to National Eye Institute.
US has about 1.8 million people 40 years or older that are affected by AMD and an additional 7.3 million with large drusen are at risk of developing AMD, says National Eye institute. By 2020, US will have about 2.90 million people with AMD.
Aspirin is widely used in the U.S., with about 19.3 percent of people consuming it regularly. The consumption of aspirin increases with age, according to the study.
The study included 5,000 men and women who had participated in the Beaver Dam Eye Study. All the participants had their eyes checked once every five years for 20 years (1988-1990 through 2008-2010). In addition, their aspirin intake was recorded.
About 512 people were diagnosed with early AMD and 117 were diagnosed with late AMD over the course of the study.
Researchers found that people who had used aspirin for more than ten years had double the risk of macular degeneration than people who hadn't.
"Our findings are consistent with a small but statistically significant association between regular aspirin use and incidence of neovascular AMD. Additional replication is required to confirm our observations. If confirmed, defining the causal mechanisms may be important in developing methods to block this effect to prevent or retard the development of neovascular AMD in persons who use aspirin, especially to prevent CVD," the authors conclude.
The study is published in the Journal of the American Medical Association.