This report in Healthday describes the study that shows that aspirin use increases risk of wet macular degeneration. Some excerpts from the study are below:
Long-term aspirin use may slightly raise the risk of developing age-related macular degeneration, a new study suggests.
The study found that the potential risk is small but statistically significant "and needs to be balanced with the significant morbidity and mortality of undertreated cardiovascular disease,"
Also, "the increased risk of age-related macular degeneration was only detected after 10 or 15 years, suggesting cumulative dosage of aspirin may be important," Wang said.
The report, published Jan. 21 in the online edition of the journal JAMA Internal Medicine, collected data on more than 2,300 people. Regular aspirin use was defined as once or more a week.
After 15 years, about 25 percent of the aspirin users developed what is called neovascular age-related macular degeneration. The cumulative rate was about 9 percent among aspirin users compared to less than 4 percent among non-aspirin users.
People taking aspirin for heart and stroke prevention benefits should not be alarmed, however, Wang said.
"Currently, there is insufficient evidence to recommend changing clinical practice, except perhaps in cases of patients with strong risk factors for age-related macular degeneration, such as existing age-related macular degeneration in one eye," she said.
For most patients, the cardiovascular benefits of regular low-dose aspirin use outweigh the potential risks, he said.
"Individuals prescribed aspirin for high-risk primary prevention or secondary cardiovascular prevention should not be concerned or discontinue this beneficial therapy," Fonarow said.
People who take aspirin regularly for pain might consider switching to another painkiller to avoid possible side effects, which also include bleeding, Kaul added.
"Heart attacks have a high risk of death, so the question is: Is it worth the possible increase in [risk for] age-related macular degeneration, compared to the risk of getting a heart attack?" said lead researcher Dr. Barbara Klein, of the University of Wisconsin School of Medicine and Public Health.
Klein said the data from her study does not suggest that people should stop taking aspirin for preventing heart attack.
More informationFor more information on aspirin and heart disease, visit the American Heart Association.
SOURCES: Jie Jin Wang, Ph.D., senior research fellow, Center for Vision Research, University of Sydney, Australia; Gregg Fonarow, M.D., spokesman, American Heart Association, and professor, cardiology, University of California, Los Angeles; Sanjay Kaul, M.D., director, Vascular Physiology and Thrombosis Research Laboratory, Cedars-Sinai Medical Center, Los Angeles; Jan. 21, 2013, JAMA Internal Medicine, online