Elderly people who regularly take aspirin could have an increased risk of age-related sight problems, according to a new study.
The research, conducted by researchers from all over Europe, shows that people who take aspirin twice a day have a doubled risk of having advanced age-related macular degeneration, compared with people who don't regularly take aspirin. However, the risk is still relatively low.
But study researcher Paulus de Jong, of the Netherlands Institute for Neuroscience and Academic Medical Center, told Reuters that people with heart disease shouldn't stop taking aspirin just because of this risk.
"A healthy eye with full visual capacities is of no use in a dead body," de Jong told The Telegraph.
Daily aspirin therapy is usually only recommended for people who have had a heart attack or stroke before, and only in accordance with a doctor's guidance, according to the Mayo Clinic.
Researchers looked at health information from nearly 4,700 people ages 65 and older. Of those people, 839 took aspirin every day -- and among them, 36 had advanced macular degeneration called "wet" macular degeneration, according to the Ophthalmology study. Reuters reported that that measures out to about 4 cases of macular degeneration for every 100 aspirin-users.
However, among people who didn't take daily aspirin, only 2 of every 100 people had wet macular degeneration.
Researchers didn't find that aspirin use was associated with the less severe, or "dry," macular degeneration.
The wet form of the condition, caused by leaking blood vessels in the eyes, leads to vision loss in the center of the eye's field of vision. The dry form is more common and less severe, although people still suffer visual impairment.
The Telegraph pointed out that it's possible that the association may exist only because age-related macular degeneration and heart disease are linked; therefore, regular aspirin-users who are trying to beat their heart disease may also have a higher prevalence of macular degeneration.
But researchers said the results were vetted for the potential influence of heart disease, and still hold true regardless of the person's heart health, The Telegraph reported.
Macular degeneration is the No. 1 cause of severe vision loss in adults age 50 and older, with 1.8 million people estimated to have the condition, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Symptoms of the condition include a "dark or empty area" in the center of vision, according to the American Optometric Association.
Known risk factors for age-related macular degeneration include smoking, being obese, having a family history of the condition, being white and being a woman, according to the National Eye Institute. To lower your risk, eat a vegetable- and fish-rich diet, avoid smoking, exercise regularly, maintain a healthy weight and maintain a normal blood pressure.