Recent Studies Linking Aspirin and
Age-Related Macular Degeneration Raises Interest in AMD Awareness Month
Five tips on how seniors can help protect their
vision from the number one cause of blindness in older people - video on
AMD below story
Feb. 20, 2013 February is AMD Awareness Month and
certainly much of the focus will be on two studies published in the last
few months that have linked regular long-term aspirin use to neovascular
age-related macular degeneration (AMD), which is a leading cause of
blindness in older people.
"Regular aspirin use was significantly associated
with an increased incidence of neovascular AMD," according to the
authors of the most recent study, which was published January 21 Online
First by JAMA Internal Medicine, a JAMA Network publication.
Gerald Liew, Ph.D., of the University of Sydney,
Australia, and colleagues examined whether regular aspirin use (defined
as once or more per week in the past year) was associated with a higher
risk of developing AMD by conducting a prospective analysis of data from
an Australian study that included four examinations during a 15-year
period. Of 2,389 participants, 257 individuals (10.8 percent) were
regular aspirin users.
After the 15-year follow-up, 63 individuals (24.5
percent) developed incident neovascular AMD, according to the results.
"The cumulative incidence of neovascular AMD among
nonregular aspirin users was 0.8 percent at five years, 1.6 percent at
10 years, and 3.7 percent at 15 years; among regular aspirin users, the
cumulative incidence was 1.9 percent at five years, 7 percent at 10
years and 9.3 percent at 15 years, respectively," the researchers
The earlier study, published in the December 19,
2012 issue of JAMA, had nearly 5,000 participants and found a small but
statistically significant increase in the risk of neovascular
age-related macular degeneration among those who reported regular
aspirin use ten years prior.
Barbara E. K. Klein, M.D., M.P.H., of the
University of Wisconsin School of Medicine and Public Health, Madison,
and colleagues conducted the study.
There were 512 incident cases of early AMD and 117
incident cases of late AMD over the course of the study. The researchers
found that regular use of aspirin use 10 years prior to the retinal
examination was associated with late AMD (age- and sex-adjusted
incidence, 1.8 percent for users vs. 1.0 percent for nonusers).
"Our findings are consistent with a small but
statistically significant association between regular aspirin use and
incidence of neovascular AMD. Additional replication is required to
confirm our observations. If confirmed, defining the causal mechanisms
may be important in developing methods to block this effect to prevent
or retard the development of neovascular AMD in persons who use aspirin,
especially to prevent CVD," the authors conclude.
By Dr. Matthew Alpert, AMD specialist
and VSP optometrist
● Eating healthy and taking
vitamins. Including foods and/or supplements in your diet
that are high in xanthophylls, such as egg yolks, not only
help protect the retina but also enhance its function.
● Avoiding blue light at night.
Believe or not, blue light can be harmful to your health, as
it actually reaches the back of your eyes. To protect your
eyes and reduce your AMD risk, BluTech lenses filter out
most blue light without altering your color vision.
● Getting an annual, comprehensive
eye exam. Your eye doctor is one of your best defenses
against AMD and a list of other degenerative diseases.
Annual eye exams are a very important step in identifying
signs and symptoms before they become serious.
● Testing yourself. You can actually
test yourself at home for AMD with an Amsler
Grid (even Betty White does it). If the lines on
the grid become squiggly or wavy, make sure to call your
● Always wearing sunglasses.
the winter, always wear sunglasses that block 100 percent of UVA/UVB rays when going outside.
AMD affects more than 20 million
Americans ages 50 and older and is the leading cause of
blindness for those who are 65 and older. The number of
Americans affected by AMD has increased by 25 percent in the
last decade, and while there is no cure for AMD, it is
treatable and preventable definitely a good reminder in
light of the aspirin study.
macular pigment affects your vision. AMD is the leading
cause of vision loss in the US affecting millions every
year. You can be proactive in protecting and enhancing your
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