program logo/macu/on light

Does Aspirin Increase the Risk of Permanent Vision Loss from Macular Degeneration?

Preeti Subramanian, PhD, Director of Vision Science Programs

BrightFocus Foundation

  • Expert Advice
Published on:
A middle-aged woman taking aspirin at home pouring pills into her hand.

Aspirin is a multi-faceted drug that decreases pain, fever, and the risk of heart attack or stroke in at-risk individuals. There is also evidence that it can decrease the risk of colorectal cancer. It works by inhibiting cyclooxygenases (COX1 and 2), reducing the production of fever and pain-causing prostaglandins. Further, by inhibiting COXs in platelets, it reduces clotting. 

Many people use aspirin in their everyday lives without a second thought. In 2012, a report suggested that regular use of aspirin could increase the risk of developing age-related macular degeneration (AMD). While these initial findings raised concerns, additional studies produced mixed results, leading doctors to continue recommending the use of aspirin.     

Want to learn more? Dive into the research behind regular aspirin use and macular degeneration risk below.  

Studies on Aspirin and Macular Degeneration Vision Loss 

Several long-term studies have assessed the impact of aspirin use on AMD risk. One of the earliest to spark headlines in 2012, called the Beaver Dam Eye Study, examined nearly 5,000 participants (aged 43-86 years old) over 20 years. Researchers found a small increase in the risk for late-stage wet AMD in those who regularly used aspirin 10 years prior to observed AMD onset. The observational nature of the study meant researchers could not conclusively determine the role of aspirin use in AMD risk.    

The Blue Mountains Eye Study in 2015 also raised concerns about aspirin risk for people with AMD. The 15-year investigation reported similar conclusions to that of the Beaver Dam study, suggesting that older participants regularly using aspirin (daily or weekly) were at higher risk of late-stage wet AMD. However, there were many limitations to the study. Only half of the initial pool of participants completed the entire 15 years of observation, and aspirin use was only assessed at the first examination. The study could not draw firm conclusions as to the connection between aspirin and AMD. 

In 2019, two large studies drawing on participants from controlled clinical trials (Age-Related Eye Disease Study) examined the association between aspirin use and AMD risk. Researchers compared aspirin users without AMD to similar people who did not take aspirin, totaling more than 3,600 participants over 10 years. They found no significant effect of aspirin use on risk for late-stage wet AMD. The design of this study allowed for more decisive findings regarding aspirin and AMD than what was previously obtained in the two long-term observational studies.  

Further, a new study called ASPREE (Aspirin in Reducing Events in the Elderly)-AMD concluded in April 2024. This sub-study of the larger ASPREE trial evaluated the impact of daily aspirin on the course of AMD in 5,000 subjects aged 70 and older in a randomized controlled trial. ASPREE-AMD provides a unique opportunity to examine the effect of long-term, low-dose aspirin intake on the progression of AMD. Researchers eagerly await final study results and believe the trial can significantly advance current knowledge and provide definitive answers. 

Is Aspirin Safe for People with Macular Degeneration? 

Taken together, researchers believe these studies present inconclusive findings as to whether regular aspirin use increases a person’s risk of developing AMD later in life. Many people with age-related macular degeneration ask if they should stop their aspirin regimen. Experts agree that the risk associated with taking aspirin, if any, is greatly outweighed by the other more conclusive health benefits of an aspirin regimen for older individuals. Consult your doctor for more tailored recommendations.  

Prevention Is the Best Medicine  

There are several ways to minimize your risk of developing AMD, including lifestyle choices like smoking cessation and healthy eating (including getting your vitamins!). Incorporating green leafy vegetables, fruits, and fatty fish into your diet helps protect your eyes from permanent vision loss caused by macular degeneration. Learn more about what you can do to prevent AMD here.  


Explore more: 


About BrightFocus Foundation       

BrightFocus Foundation is a premier global nonprofit funder of research to defeat Alzheimer’s, macular degeneration, and glaucoma. Through its flagship research programs — Alzheimer’s Disease Research, National Glaucoma Research, and Macular Degeneration Research — the Foundation has awarded nearly $290 million in groundbreaking research funding over the past 50 years and shares the latest research findings, expert information, and resources to empower the millions impacted by these devastating diseases. Learn more at     


The information provided in this section is a public service of BrightFocus Foundation, should not in any way substitute for the advice of a qualified healthcare professional, and is not intended to constitute medical advice. Although we make efforts to keep the medical information on our website updated, we cannot guarantee that the information on our website reflects the most up-to-date research.      

Please consult your physician for personalized medical advice; all medications and supplements should only be taken under medical supervision. BrightFocus Foundation does not endorse any medical product or therapy.

Don't miss out

Receive Macular Degeneration Disease breakthrough news, research updates, and inspiring stories. 

Donate to Macular Degeneration Research

Your gift can help lead to treatments and a cure to end Macular Degeneration Disease. Fund the latest, promising research and help provide valuable information to families living with this disease.

I would like to donate