Fox News brings us the details:
Researchers led by Paulus de Jong at the Netherlands Institute for Neuroscience and Academic Medical Center collected health and lifestyle information from nearly 4,700 people over age 65. The study included Norwegian, Estonian, British, French, Italian, Greek and Spanish seniors.
Of the 839 people who took aspirin each day, 36 had an advanced form of the disease called wet macular degeneration — or about four out of every 100 daily aspirin users.
In comparison, roughly two out of every 100 people who took aspirin less frequently had the same type of macular degeneration.
There are two types of macular degeneration, wet and dry. They are the leading cause of vision loss in the over-60 set. The wet form noted in the study produces impairment at the center of the eye’s field of vision due to the leakage of the blood vessels. The dry form is both less impairing and more widespread. Fox News also noted that aspirin seems to only effect the wet version of the disease, and only in the later stages.
It is important to note that none of the numbers show that aspirin causes vision loss, but it does seem to aggravate the situation. Many seniors take aspirin because of heart disease, and these new findings do not mean that they should stop.
Stuff.co.nz asked Dr. de Jong about this. Here is his answer:
Paulus [de Jong at the Netherlands Institute for Neuroscience and Academic Medical Center] wrote in an email that his team ‘analyzed as meticulously as possible’ whether cardiovascular disease might have influenced the results, and still found that aspirin users — regardless of their heart health — are at a greater risk of the more serious type of vision loss.
Dr. de Jong did also point out that more extensive studies tracking aspirin use and visual acuity over time would be needed to truly determine the drug’s role in this deterioration — studies that would cover longer time spans and with more test subjects. He said:
While it’s a good idea to caution people that aspirin might have a deleterious role in macular degeneration, ‘a healthy eye with full visual capacities is of no use in a dead body,’ Paulus said.
In other words, for people with cardiovascular disease who take aspirin to prevent the condition from worsening, the benefits of the drug outweigh the risks to visual health.
It could be far worse. After all, there are numerous gadgets and devices to aid those with worsening vision, and while losing sight is hard, the alternative is worse.