The University of Wisconsin School of Medicine and Public Health at Madison has found a link between aspirin use and age-related macular degeneration. The study monitored the results of eyes exams as well as interviews during a five year period and found that those who took aspirin regularly, at a minimum of twice per week for over three months, had a slightly higher incidence of age related macular degeneration after a decade. Though researchers have not determined precisely how aspirin influences the rare eye condition, statistics have shown a small yet significant relationship between the two.
The full report, the Beaver Dam Eye Study, can be found within the Journal of the American Medical Association. Led by Dr. Barbara Klein, professor of opthalmology and visual sciences at the University of Wisconsin, the a long-running 20 years long project based in the small city of Beaver Dam, WI, collected data of 5,000 middle aged and elderly adults through interviews and full eye exams. During every five year interview and eye exam, study participants reported information regarding lifestyle habits and medications they were taking. In measuring the incidence of 4 different types of age related macular degeneration [AMD], researchers identified those who used aspirin regularly (defined as at least two times per week for over three months) had an “increased risk” of neovascular AMD and pure geographic atrophy.
Klein offered in the report: "It seems as though there's a latent effect of usage far in the past on current [AMD] development." She went on to suggest future studies will hopefully determine precisely how aspirin influences the onset of the eye condition. In the meantime, Klein assures that patients must continue to take their aspirin as their physicians recommend because "the increased risk [of macular degeneration] is relatively small" in comparison to the risks associated with the heart attacks aspirin helps to prevent.
Beyond aspirin, age related macular degeneration is generally caused by genetic and lifestyle influences and affects a number of people. Treatment options exist (like medication, surgery, and adaptive devices) little can stop the progression of the disease though some options slow the affects.