‘Aspirin could double the risk of blindness': Study

PTI London | Updated on December 19, 2012


Regular intake of the ‘wonder drug’ aspirin for 10 years could more than double the risk of sight loss, a new study has claimed.

Scientists say taking aspirin could increase the chance of developing wet age-related macular degeneration (AMD) — an eye condition that can lead to blindness.

Researchers from the University of Wisconsin used data from the Beaver Dam Eye Study on age-related eye diseases. Eye exams were performed every five years over a 20-year period on nearly 5,000 participants, the ‘Daily Mail’ reported.

Volunteers, aged 43 to 86, were then asked if they had regularly used aspirin at least twice a week for more than three months. The average duration of follow-up was 14.8 years.

Researchers measured the incidences of different types of AMD. Wet AMD makes up just 10 per cent of cases but causes severe vision loss, while dry AMD is more common and milder — although it can develop into wet AMD at any time.

Results showed there were 512 cases of dry AMD and 117 cases of wet AMD over the course of the study, the report said.

Researchers found those who took aspirin for 10 years had a 1.4 per cent risk of developing wet AMD compared to just 0.6 per cent of non-users. However, there was no association found between taking aspirin and developing dry AMD.

“The results of cross-sectional studies of aspirin use and its relation to age-related macular degeneration (AMD) have been inconsistent,” Dr Barbara Klein said.

“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.

Researchers said further studies would be needed to confirm the findings. If true it could help develop ways to prevent wet AMD.

Aspirin is often referred to as a wonder drug. Besides acting as a painkiller, aspirin acts as an anti-inflammatory agent.

Published on December 19, 2012

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