THURSDAY, Jan. 5 (HealthDay News) -- Daily aspirin use among seniors may double their risk of developing a particularly advanced form of age-related macular degeneration, a debilitating eye disease, a large new European study suggests.
The possible link involves the so-called "wet" type of age-related macular degeneration (AMD), a significant cause of blindness in seniors.
Aspirin use was not, however, found to be associated with an increased risk for developing the more common, and usually less advanced, "dry" form of AMD, according to the report published in the January issue of Ophthalmology.
Although the study team stressed that further research is needed, the findings could cause concern for the millions of older people who routinely take over-the-counter aspirin for pain, inflammation and blood-clot management, and to reduce their risk of heart disease.
"People should be aware that aspirin, often just bought over the counter without prescription, may have adverse effects -- apart from major gastrointestinal and other bleeding -- also for AMD," said lead author Dr. Paulus de Jong.
De Jong is an emeritus professor of ophthalmic epidemiology at the Netherlands Institute for Neuroscience of the Royal Academy of Arts and Sciences, as well as the Academic Medical Center, both in Amsterdam.
Age-related macular degeneration affects the critical central vision required for reading, driving and general mobility. The damage occurs when the retinal core of the eye (the macula) becomes exposed to leaking or bleeding due to abnormal growth of blood vessels.
To examine whether aspirin use might trigger this process, the authors focused on nearly 4,700 men and women over age 65 living in Norway, Estonia, the United Kingdom, France, Italy, Greece and Spain.
In the study, conducted between 2000 and 2003, the researchers looked at blood samples, frequency
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