Millions of people take a daily aspirin tablet to help reduce their risk of having a heart attack or stroke. But are they setting themselves up for the loss of their eyesight later in life?
European researchers followed 4,000 elderly subject and found that those who took a daily aspirin tablet were twice as likely to later be diagnosed with macular degeneration, a gradual loss of eyesight.
The researchers are quick to point out their study found nothing in aspirin that could be thought to cause macular degeneration. It was only the statistic correlation between those taking aspirin and those who suffered from the eyesight condition.
It's possible, researchers say, that there is a link between macular degeneration and heart disease. People who take daily aspirin have either had a heart attack or are worried about having one, which could, researchers say, explain the connection between aspirin and the eye condition.
There are two types of macular degeneration – wet and dry. Research continues into the condition and its causes, which are not fully known. Previous studies have suggested links to diet and lifestyle.
Dry macular degeneration is a chronic eye disease that causes vision loss in the center of your field of vision.
The other type — wet macular degeneration — is characterized by swelling caused by leaky blood vessels in the back of the eye.
Aspirin therapy not for everyone
Doctors at the Mayo Clinic say daily aspirin therapy may be helpful for some people, but not everyone. They say you consider daily aspirin therapy only if you've had a heart attack or stroke, or you have a high risk of either. And then, only take aspirin with your doctor's approval.
Although taking an occasional aspirin or two is safe for most adults to use for headaches, body aches or fever, daily use of aspirin can have serious side effects, including internal bleeding.