Can the daily usage of aspirin harm your eyes if you’re over the age of 60?
Many adults all over world take an aspirin on a daily basis in the attempt to prevent having a heart attack, but could taking an aspirin increase your risk of developing age-related macular degeneration or loss of vision?
Age-related macular degeneration, known as AMD, is the deterioration or the breakdown of the eye’s macula. The macula is a small part of your retina, which is responsible for your sharp central vision. This essential part of your eye allows you to see fine details clearly. If you have AMD, you will struggle with threading a needle, or reading small print in a magazine.
There are two forms of AMD: wet and dry. “Dry” AMD is the most common of the two, it is caused by the thinning of the retina, which often results into “wet” AMD. “Wet” AMD by the nature of it’s name, results in abnormal blood vessels growing in layers of cells beneath the retina, which then leaks fluid and blood. This can injure and scar the retina, causing the loss of vision.
According to the American Academy of Ophthalmology, research from both the United States and Australia has shown that “people who take aspirin on a regular basis may be at higher risk for ‘wet’ AMD, the form of the eye disease that’s most often linked with sudden vision loss in older people”.
While research has shown these results, the risk associated with the usage of aspirin was minimal. The Harvard Medical School highlights: “After adjusting for factors that significantly affect the risk of AMD, like smoking and age, 14 in 1 000 aspirin users developed late-stage “wet” AMD, compared to 6 in 1 000 non-users.”
So the question arises, should you continue or quit taking your daily aspirin?
According to the Harvard Medical School: “The answer is no, especially for people who take a low-dose of aspirin daily to prevent heart attacks. The small (and still unconfirmed) added risk of AMD is far outweighed by the rock-solid benefits of cardio-protective aspirin. But this study does raise the issue that even a simple, safe medication like aspirin isn’t something you want to be taking unless it will clearly do you some good.”
Researches at the National Eye Institute in the USA, have findings that indicate that macular degeneration is often linked to nutritional deficiencies. They advise you should quit smoking and take in enough zinc and antioxidants, as well as omega-3 fatty acid, which will reduce the risk of developing AMD.
Spec-Savers recommend that you have a comprehensive eye exam at the age of 40 to check your vision, and look out for early signs of macular degeneration and any other eye problems.
No matter what your age, it’s advisable to have a comprehensive eye test every 12-24 months to ensure your eye health is sound.
To learn more, visit your nearest Spec-Savers branch, or speak to your optometrist.
Date Published: 13 August 2015