Before you reach out for an aspirin to ease some pain or combat a condition, think again. You might want to know about the side effects of popping the pill a few times every week. HealthHearty brings to you an insight on the research and studies conducted to verify the relation between regular aspirin intake and vision loss.
Aspirin was officially named in the Guinness Book of World Records as the highest-selling drug product in 1950.
Many doctors suggest medications like aspirin for relief from pain, and to prevent heart disease. Let us first get to know a little about this pill. Aspirin, also known as ASA, is used as a painkiller. Apart from curing common conditions like inflammation, pain, and flu, it also has anti-platelet properties (anti-clotting properties). This makes it a widely recommended pill to prevent heart diseases and strokes. Many people use aspirin for different reasons, and there is a certain population dedicated to taking this pill almost on a regular basis.
While this pill has proved to be beneficial on some major health grounds, like that of heart health, it has also shared the limelight with some not-so-pleasing side effects. For long, there has been speculation over whether aspirin is linked to vision loss. Finally, a study conducted has cleared the air regarding aspirin and its effects on vision. A research published in the JAMA International Medicine, found that consumption of aspirin on a regular basis increased the risk of age-related macular degeneration, also known as AMD. This condition is one of the major causes of blindness in adults.
In the following section, HealthHearty has compiled important findings of this study, which also explain how aspirin causes AMD.
Aspirin and Vision Loss – Are They Linked?
|The study was conducted by researchers from Australia, and the conclusion of this study was published in the Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA).
➟ Researchers observed nearly 2,400 middle-aged and elderly people, for a span of 15 years.
➟ Among all the people, 257 were regular users of aspirin; they popped the pill at least once a week. The rest of the users used the pill occasionally.
➟ The participants were given a questionnaire regarding the use of aspirin, and all possible factors for AMD. At the end of the study, all participants were subjected to a health evaluation. This would conclude if the consumption of aspirin had any long-term side effects on their health.
➟ In people who consumed aspirin occasionally (lesser than once a week), it was found that only 1 out of every 27 individuals was affected with a condition of the eye, called wet macular degeneration, also known as neovascular AMD. A total of 3.6 percent of the total occasional users of aspirin were diagnosed with AMD.
➟ AMD is the leading cause of blindness in the elderly. AMD generally affects the ‘macula’ – the part of the eye that helps one see fine details. There are two types of AMD: mainly wet and dry. In case of ‘wet’ AMD, the reason is growth of abnormal blood vessels under the macula. These blood vessels are prone to breakage. This leads to blood and fluid leakage, which damages the macula, and may lead to blindness.
➟ The study then analyzed the health of regular aspirin users among the participants. It was observed that nearly 1 in every 10 regular aspirin users had developed wet AMD. This was almost 9.4 percent of the total regular aspirin users.
➟ So, the risk of blindness increased threefold in regular aspirin users, as compared to those who consumed the pill occasionally.
➟ The conclusion of the study by the researchers was noted as, “Regular aspirin use was significantly associated with an increased incidence of neovascular [wet] AMD.” It was also found that the risk for AMD was detected only after a long time span, which was 10 to 15 years. Study author Professor Jie Jin Wang, hence, concluded that cumulative dosage of aspirin may be important.
➟ Regardless of the patient’s smoking history or overall heart health, it was found that regular consumption of aspirin does increase the risk of developing wet age-related macular degeneration.
➟ The study has gathered mixed responses in the medical world. any dismissed the findings of the study, which at the end, advised against the use of aspirin, while on the other side, had many health benefits. They opined that the study should not discourage people from using the drug for treatment.
➟ The losses and profits that the pharmaceutical industry would suffer from was also highlighted. Many ophthalmologists do not agree to the findings of the research, as they suggest, it was difficult to advise people against a certain drug, based on a population-based study. Then again, many also feel that the finding may have substance, as another study conducted by the European Eye Study in 2011, concluded with the same statement, that regular consumption of aspirin increases the risk of AMD.
In any case, one should strictly consult a doctor before the use of aspirin for any treatment. It is specially important for people to know all about the side effects of the pill, if they already have AMD or vision issues in one of their eyes.
Disclaimer: This HealthHearty article is for informative purposes only, and should not be replaced for the advice of a medical professional.