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Aspirin Use Raises Risk of Age-Related Macular Degeneration

Aspirin
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A new study has found that long-term aspirin use can lead to a condition known as neovascular age-related macular degeneration (AMD).

Researchers from University of Sydney, Australia, found that prolonged use of aspirin increased risk of AMD which is one of the leading causes of blindness in people above 50 years of age. Also, this increase in risk was independent of smoking or heart disease.

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 reflects the light in the eye. AMD can either be 'dry' or 'wet' depending upon the formation of blood vessels, according to National Eye Institute.

A recent study, conducted by the researchers from University of Wisconsin School of Medicine and Public Health and published in the Journal of the American Medical Association, too had found an association between aspirin use and age-related macular degeneration.

US has about 1.8 million 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. The wet form of AMD or the Neovascular AMD is the advanced stage where the photoreceptor cells are irreversibly damaged. Only about 10% of all cases of AMD are wet type.

The present study included some Of 2,389 people enrolled of which 257 people or 10.8 percent used aspirin regularly. Researchers found that after 15 years, 63 people or 24.5 percent developed incident neovascular AMD.

"Regular aspirin use was significantly associated with an increased incidence of neovascular AMD," researchers noted

However, researchers of the study said that people needn't stop using aspirin.

"Currently, there is insufficient evidence to recommend changing clinical practice, except perhaps in patients with strong risk factors for neovascular AMD (e.g., existing late AMD in the fellow eye) in whom it may be appropriate to raise the potentially small risk of incident neovascular AMD with long-term aspirin therapy," the authors conclude.

The study is published in the journal JAMA Internal Medicine.

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