Thursday, February 20, 2014

Macular Degeneration (AMD) Risk Taking Aspirin

“Your risk of developing age related macular degeneration (AMD) may increase by taking aspirin,” noted Massachusetts Retina Specialist Sreeni Basa, M.D.”Aspirin is a very useful medication. In fact aspirin is one of the most widely used over-the-counter medications, with an estimated 120 billion tablets taken each year for headaches, body aches and fever-and millions of people at high risk of heart attack due to atherosclerosis use daily aspirin therapy as a preventative measure, thanks to aspirin’s anticoagulant properties,” explained Dr. Basa.

In a study published in December 2012, researchers followed nearly 5,000 participants (aged 43 to 86 years) for more than 20 years. These participants, part of the Beaver Dam Eye Study, received eye examinations every five years. Results showed 512 cases of early age-related macular degeneration (AMD) and 117 cases of late AMD over the course of the study.

Additionally, at each exam, participants were asked if they had regularly used aspirin at least twice a week for more than three months. Researchers found that regular aspirin use 10 years prior to eye examination was associated with late AMD, with estimated incidence of 1.76 percent, compared to 1.03 percent in non-aspirin users. Researchers concluded that these associations, though small, were statistically significant.

Interestingly, regular aspirin use 10 years prior to eye examination was significantly associated with the “wet” form of AMD, which accounts for 10 percent of all AMD cases, but is responsible for the majority of functional blindness attributed to the disease. An even more recent study published in January 2013 confirmed this aspirin/AMD link. In this study, researchers analyzed data from a 15-year Australian population-based cohort. At the beginning of the study, 2,389 participants completed a detailed questionnaire that assessed aspirin use, heart disease status and AMD risk factors. In addition, they received four eye examinations during the 15-year study period.

After analyzing data, 63 (out of 257) regular aspirin users developed wet AMD—an astounding 24.5 percent. Even after adjusting for other risk factors like age, sex, smoking, history of heart disease and body mass index, regular aspirin users still had a higher risk of developing wet AMD. Researchers concluded, “Regular aspirin use is associated with increased risk of incident neovascular [Wet] AMD, independent of history of cardiovascular disease and smoking.”

Alternatives to Aspirin
If you’re a regular aspirin user, you should get a thorough eye exam as soon as possible to determine your AMD status. This is extremely important because AMD often doesn’t show any symptoms until well after the condition has taken hold.

If you or someone you know is concerned about glaucoma risk or has any family history of glaucoma they are encouraged to schedule an eye examination at D’Ambrosio Eye Care by calling us at 800-325-3937, visiting D’Ambrosio Eye Care or so that we can help recommend an appropriate treatment plan.

D'Ambrosio Eye Care is a leading eye and LASIK care practice with office locations at 479 Old Union Turnpike, Lancaster, Massachusetts 01523, 100 Powder Mill Road, Acton, Massachusetts 01720, 413 Main Street, Athol, Massachusetts 01331 and 74 Main Street, Gardner, Massachusetts 01440 that serve the greater Boston and central Massachusetts area.