Aspirin linked to macular degeneration
Patients taking regular aspirin face a twofold increased risk of developing aged-related macular degeneration, a 15-year Australian study suggests.
The results, from the NSW Blue Mountains Eye study, have prompted an Australian expert to call for a cautious rethink on one of the nation’s most widely used drugs.
The risk increased with the frequency of aspirin dosing: AMD developed in 2.2% of patients who did not use aspirin, 2.9% of those who used it occasionally and 5.8% of those used it regularly.
This association appeared regardless of whether patients had a history of cardiovascular disease and smoking, the researchers wrote Tuesday in JAMA Internal Medicine (online).
“If these results reflect a true causal relationship, there are serious implications for the millions of people using aspirin therapy,” they said.
Study author Associate Professor Paul Mitchell, a clinical ophthalmologist at the University of Sydney, suggested caution when prescribing aspirin to patients with advancing AMD.
“That’s the very group that we’d be concerned about: people for whom there could be a potentially increased risk for progression to late-stage neovascular AMD,” he told Australian Doctor.
Professor Mitchell conceded the association could result from confounding factors, but said two other recent studies had reported similar findings.
“For prevention of heart disease and stroke, there are good data suggesting benefit [from aspirin], and we wouldn’t want to suggest interfering with that,” he added.
The study tracked 2400 people aged 49 or older using retinal photographs, typically performed every four years.
There were 257 regular aspirin users among this group, 63 (25%) of whom developed neovascular AMD over the study period.