While the study uncovered an association between aspirin use and AMD, it did not prove a cause-and-effect relationship.
This point was also made by Dr. Alfred Sommer, a professor of ophthalmology and dean emeritus at the Bloomberg School of Public Health at Johns Hopkins University in Baltimore. He noted that while the study was "well executed," it should not be seen as definitive proof that aspirin use and AMD are linked.
An observational study of this type "merely calls attention to the fact that such an association may exist, and that it may be causal, but only randomized clinical trials can prove the matter one way or the other," he said.
"Hence, this might or might not be real," Sommer added, "and we will only know that when and if a randomized trial is done."
In the interim, he said the findings should not guide patient behavior.
"It is well known that aspirin [and other NSAIDs] can increase the risk of gastric distress and gastric ulcers," Sommer said. "Like any medicine, it should only be taken if needed. But those taking aspirin to prevent heart disease, particularly those at increased risk of heart disease, definitely do benefit and should not change what they do."
For more on age-related macular degeneration, visit the U.S. National Eye Institute.
SOURCES: Paulus de Jong, M.D., Ph.D., emeritus professor of ophthalmic epidemiology, Netherlands Institute for Neuroscience of the Royal Netherlands Academy of Arts and Sciences, and Academic Medical Center, Amsterdam, the Netherlands; Alfred Sommer, M.D., professor, ophthalmology, and dean emeritus, Bloomberg School of Public Health, Johns Hopkins University, Baltimore; January 2012, Ophthalmology
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