Can Aspirin Damage Eye Health?

Long-term use may increase eye disease risk

woman with aspirin in her mouth

A new study has found that people who regularly use aspirin may be at increased risk of age-related macular degeneration – the leading cause of blindness in older people, occurring when the small central portion of the retina is damaged.

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But don’t toss out the popular pain relievers just yet.

Doctors sometimes recommend a daily low-dose aspirin to their patients for prevention and treatment of cardiovascular disease. In this study, researchers at the University of Sydney looked at older people who took aspirin daily as a preventive measure for years.

What the study found

Researchers found that of nearly 2,400 people studied over a 15-year period, 10 percent were regular aspirin users.

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Of that group, 25 percent developed the macular degeneration over that time frame, compared to 9 percent who developed it but were non-aspirin users.

Don’t stop taking your aspirin

If your doctor has recommended aspirin for your heart health, don’t stop taking it yet, say the study’s researchers. More research has to be done and not enough evidence supports stopping aspirin therapy unless a person already has strong risk factors for age-related macular degeneration.

Ophthalmologist Justis Ehlers, MD, agrees, “Aspirin has clearly been shown to have good secondary prevention for different cardiovascular diseases.” He says it’s premature for people to stop taking aspirin based on this study. “We need to sort this out over time to see what it means,” he says.

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