Vasodilator use linked to AMD development

June 12, 2014

Taking vasodilators may increase the risk of developing early-stage age-related macular degeneration (AMD), according to a study published online.

Taking vasodilators may increase the risk of developing early-stage age-related macular degeneration (AMD), according to a study published online in Ophthalmology.

Researchers from the University of Wisconsin School of Medicine and Public Health, Madison, Wisconsin, USA, conducted a long-term population-based cohort study from 1988 to 2013 of nearly 5000 residents of Beaver Dam, Wisconsin, USA, aged 43 to 86 years. The research is part of the Beaver Dam Eye Study, which since 1987 has collected information on the prevalence and incidence of macular degeneration and diabetic retinopathy.

The researchers found that, after adjusting for age, sex and other factors, using any vasodilator was associated with a 72% greater risk of developing early-stage AMD. Among people who were not taking vasodilators, about 8% developed signs of early AMD. In comparison, among those taking a vasodilator medication, about 19% developed the disease.

The researchers also found that taking oral beta blockers was associated with a 71% increase in the risk of neovascular AMD. Among those who were not taking oral beta blockers, only 0.5% developed signs of neovascular AMD, compared to 1.2% of those taking oral beta blockers.

The researchers caution that their study was not able to discern effects of the medications themselves and the conditions for which participants were taking those medications.

"As significant as these results may be, it's important that they be replicated first, and if possible tested in a clinical trials setting before changing anyone's medication regimens," said Dr Ronald Klein, MPH, lead researcher of the study. "Further research is needed to determine the cause of these increased risks."

To read the abstract of the study, visit the journal's website.