Possible Link Between Aspirin Use and Macular Degeneration

Aspirin is one of those wonder drugs that many of us can’t do without. In addition to remedying a host of ills, including headaches, muscle aches, and the pain of sunburn, it is often prescribed as an inexpensive and effective preventative against heart attacks and strokes. This use of aspirin to address cardiac conditions is known as “daily aspirin therapy” and doctors have successfully used it for years to preserve the health of their patients.

Recently, however, a study by a professor at the University of Wisconsin School of Medicine-Madison showed a possible link between aspirin use and macular degeneration, a serious eye disease that can lead to blindness. While this study demands attention, it’s also crucial  that individuals who take aspirin on a regular basis talk to their doctors before discontinuing its use. Discontinuing aspirin therapy can have serious negative effects on a person’s health.


What the Study Showed

The study’s author, Barbara E.K. Klein, MD, MPH, followed a study pool of 5,000 subjects, all 43 and over, for twenty years. She concluded that regular aspirin use, at least two doses per week, for at least three months might correlate with the development of macular degeneration ten years later. She noted, however, that the eye condition itself is rare and that this is a matter that requires more study. Other medical experts agreed, with one noting that the study relied on self-reporting by the subjects, which could compromise the study’s accuracy.


The Importance of Talking to Your Doctor

Since the study’s author admits the importance of further research into the connection between aspirin therapy and macular degeneration, it’s particularly important for individuals on daily aspirin therapy to talk to their doctors before discontinuing aspirin use for fear of developing macular degeneration. Here’s why:

  • The risk of developing macular degeneration is quite low, even if a person regularly uses aspirin. Only a medical professional is qualified to weigh the risks of developing the condition against the efficacy of using aspirin to prevent heart attacks and strokes.
  • Many medical experts believe that aspirin is an effective preventative treatment against heart attack and stroke due to its anti-clotting properties. Many people who are at risk for debilitating and often deadly heart attacks and strokes may be able to preserve their health and lives by taking a low daily dose of aspirin.
  • Suddenly discontinuing daily aspirin therapy may trigger a rebound effect, resulting in a deadly blood clot. While it is understandable that you might be concerned about macular degeneration, particularly if you come from a family where the condition is present, stopping your aspirin therapy could have a far more detrimental effect on your health. Talk to your doctor about your concerns before making any changes in your health routine.


Get an Eye Exam

As is true for many eye diseases, early detection and treatment of macular degeneration is often crucial to preserving eyesight and halting the disease’s progression. The best way to guard against this condition is by seeing an eye doctor regularly. Unfortunately, advanced vision loss caused by macular degeneration can’t be treated, but early nutritional intervention and, in some cases, surgery, can prevent additional blindness.