New Study Links Daily Aspirin Use to Increased Risk of Age-Related Macular Degeneration

SAN FRANCISCO—A large European study, published in the January issue of the journal of the American Academy of Ophthalmology, links daily aspirin use to increased risk of age-related macular degeneration (AMD).

The study found that people aged 65 and older who took aspirin daily had double the risk of developing "wet" AMD (an advanced form of the disease that occurs when abnormal blood vessels grow and bleed or leak fluid into the macula), compared with those who took it less frequently. The study also found a somewhat elevated risk of early-stage AMD in daily aspirin users. No higher risk was found for advanced "dry" AMD.

"If future studies support our results, then recommendations on aspirin may need to be modified for patients with age-related macular degeneration," said Paulus T. V. M. de Jong, MD, PhD, of the Netherlands Institute for Neuroscience and Academic Medicine, who led the research team. "It's possible that increased AMD risk may outweigh aspirin's potential protective benefits for some patients, but we need to know more about the impacts of dose, length of use, and other factors before we can say for certain, or make specific recommendations."

Dr. de Jong's research was part of the European Eye Study that examined and surveyed more than 4,600 Europeans between 2000 and 2003. The study's main goals were to estimate AMD prevalence and to investigate the impacts of sun exposure and antioxidant vitamin use on disease development. The researchers said they think medical professionals should stick with their current advice on aspirin for older, cardiovascular disease patients, until other studies confirm the link between daily aspirin use and wet AMD risk.

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