An aspirin a day might keep heart attacks away, but it may also lead to blindness. Regular aspirin takers over many years are more likely to develop a form of blindness, researchers say.
A study on 2,389 people, in the journal JAMA Internal Medicine, showed aspirin takers had twice the risk of "wet" age-related macular degeneration (when a person’s central vision becomes progressively more unclear, obscuring details in the center of a patient's field of vision). Wet AMD is caused by blood vessels growing in the wrong place. Swelling and bleeding damages the retina.
After a 15-year study conducted at the University of Sydney, one in 27 “occasional” users developed the vision problem. Almost one in 10 “regular” Aspirin users also developed it. On average the participants were in their mid-60s.
Taking low doses of aspirin every day does reduce the risk of a stroke or heart attack in patients with cardiovascular disease. A recent study published by The Lancet added mounting evidence that a low daily dose (75-300mg) of aspirin prevents and may even treat many cancers (especially bowel cancer) based on an analysis of data from 51 various trials involving more than 77,000 patients.
The researchers said there was not yet enough evidence to change aspirin use. Their report said: "The increased risk of [wet] AMD was detected only after 10 or 15 years, suggesting that cumulative dosing is important. Eye tests were performed after five, 10 and 15 years.
"Given the widespread use of aspirin, any increased risk of disabling conditions will be significant and affect many people," the researchers stated.