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Could Daily Aspirin Harm Seniors' Eyes?
Date:1/5/2012

of aspirin use (though not doses), smoking and drinking history, stroke and heart attack records, blood pressure levels and sociodemographic data.

The team also analyzed detailed images of each participant's eyes, looking for indications of age-related macular degeneration and severity.

Daily aspirin use was associated with the onset of late-stage "wet" age-related macular degeneration, and to a lesser degree, the onset of early "dry" AMD -- even after the researchers took into account age and a history of heart disease, which in itself is a risk factor for AMD.

For late-stage wet AMD only, the association was stronger the more frequently an individual took aspirin.

Early AMD was found in more than more than one-third of participants (36 percent), while late-stage AMD was found in roughly 3 percent, or 157 patients.

Of those with late AMD, more than two-thirds (108) had wet AMD, while about one-third (49) had dry AMD, the researchers found.

More than 17 percent of participants said they took aspirin daily, while 7 percent took it at least once a week and 41 percent did so at least once a month.

About one-third of those with wet AMD consumed aspirin on a daily basis, compared with 16 percent of those with no AMD.

The study authors cautioned that further research is needed on aspirin's possible effects on eye health. Meanwhile, they suggested that doctors generally should not alter their current advice for aspirin use among older patients coping with heart disease risk.

"[But] I would advise persons who [already] have early or late AMD not to take aspirin as a painkiller," de Jong said. "[And] I would advise people with AMD who take small amounts of aspirin for primary prevention -- this means having no past history of cardiac or vascular problems like stroke, and no elevated risk factors for these diseases -- to discuss with their doctor if it is wise to continue doing so. For secondary prevention -- this means
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