Aspirin Associated with Wet Age-Related Macular Degeneration (ARMD)

age related macular degenerationA study involving more than 2000 participants in Australia has shown an association between regular aspirin use and wet age-related macular degeneration (ARMD). The prospective analysis study involved four examinations over 15 years (1992-1994 to 2007-2009). Subjects filled in a questionnaire at the beginning of the study that recorded aspirin usage, heart disease and risk factors for ARMD. A retinal photograph was taken at each examination to determine whether subjects had wet (neovascular) ARMD and dry (geographic atrophy) ARMD.

Of all the subjects, 10.8% of them used aspirin regularly. The study results showed that they were more likely to develop wet ARMD (9.3% in aspirin users versus 3.7% in non-aspirin users). Even after adjusting for age, gender, smoking, history of cardiovascular disease, systolic blood pressure and BMI (body mass index), the regular aspirin users had a higher risk of developing neovascular AMD.

Aspirin use was not associated with the incidence of dry macular degeneration. Dry ARMD is more common in the general population than wet AMD.

In macular degeneration, the macula cells at the center of the retina gradually break down. This eye disease results in the loss of central vision. Macular degeneration is especially prevalent as people age. Peripheral vision is not affected damaged. Take the Amsler test for ARMD.

Aspirin, or acetylsalicylic acid (ASA), was discovered in 1897 and was the over-the-counter pain reliever of choice for many decades. However, the medication was found to have significant side-effects in higher doses such as ulcers. In spite of the invention of other NSAIDs such as ibuprofen and  acetaminophen that may have fewer side-effects, ASA remains one of the most popular medications in the world, with approximately 40,000 tonnes being taken each year.

Low doses of aspirin have been used long-term to help prevent heart attacks, blood clots and strokes. Low doses given immediately after a heart attack or stroke can mitigate damage. Before starting or stopping a drug regimen, consult your physician.

A significant amount of peer-reviewed research shows ARMD can respond to nutrition and lifestyle choices, and may even be preventable in some cases. Learn more about age-related macular degeneration.

SOURCE: Liew G, Mitchell P, Wong TY, et al. The association of aspirin use with age-related macular degeneration. JAMA Intern Med. 2013;173(4):258-64.