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February 1991

Low-Dose Aspirin and Risks of Cataract in a Randomized Trial of US Physicians

Author Affiliations

From the Epidemiology Unit, Massachusetts Eye and Ear Infirmary, Department of Ophthalmology, Harvard Medical School, Boston (Dr Seddon); Channing Laboratory, Department of Medicine (Drs Christen, Manson, Buring, and Hennekens), and Department of Preventive Medicine (Dr Buring and Hennekens), Brigham and Women's Hospital, Boston; and the National Eye Institute, Bethesda, Md (Dr Sperduto).

Arch Ophthalmol. 1991;109(2):252-255. doi:10.1001/archopht.1991.01080020098052

• Observational studies have raised the question of a possible benefit of aspirin on the development of cataract. The Physicians' Health Study, a randomized double-masked placebo-controlled trial among 22 071 male physicians, aged 40 to 84 years, provided the opportunity to collect information about whether low-dose aspirin therapy (325 mg on alternate days) affects the development or extraction of cataract. There were 173 age-related cataracts among those physicians assigned to aspirin therapy and 180 among those given placebo (relative risk, 0.95; 95% confidence interval, 0.74 to 1.22). Cataract extractions were less frequent in the aspirin than in the placebo group, but this difference was not statistically significant (relative risk, 0.80; 95% confidence interval, 0.56 to 1.15). Among younger men (aged 40 to 59 years), the relative risks were 0.62 (95% confidence interval, 0.40 to 0.94) for cataract development and 0.67 (95% confidence interval, 0.38 to 1.31) for cataract extraction. These randomized trial data tend to exclude any large benefit of aspirin. While the overall findings concerning cataract development seem to be null, the data on extraction of age-related cataract, while not statistically significant, cannot exclude a possible small to moderate benefit of alternate-day aspirin therapy on the extraction of age-related cataract.