Low to moderate alcohol drinking may lower risk of this eye disease

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In a new study from University College London and Moorfields, researchers found low to moderate alcohol consumption appears to be linked to a lower risk of requiring surgery for cataracts.

Cataracts are cloudy patches that develop in the lens of the eye and eventually impair sight. They usually affect older people, with an estimated 30% of over-65s suffering visually impairing cataracts in one or both eyes.

A previous study found inconsistency in the findings. These range from showing no link between cataracts and alcohol drinking, to a reduction in risk from low to moderate levels of consumption, to an increased risk from high drinking.

In the study, the team used data from over 490,000 people in the well-established UK Biobank and EPIC-Norfolk cohort studies.

Participants in these studies have volunteered to be followed throughout their lives and give detailed information about themselves and their health, lifestyles and circumstances.

The researchers compared self-reported alcohol consumption with patient records of cataract surgery.

They found that drinkers who consumed alcohol within the maximum UK recommended weekly limit (up to 14 units per week, which equates to about 6.5 standard glasses of wine) were less likely to undergo cataract surgery.

The most significant reduction was linked to wine compared to beer or spirits.

For example, participants who drank wine five or more times per week were 23% less likely than non-drinkers to undergo cataract surgery in the EPIC-Norfolk study, and 14% less likely in the UK Biobank study.

However, participants with high beer, cider, or spirits consumption had no significantly reduced risk.

The authors concluded that low to moderate consumption of alcohol, and wine in particular, appears to lower the risk of developing severe cataracts.

If you care about eye disease, please read studies about this drug could improve vision in older people with blinding eye disease and findings of new drug to treat blinding eye disease in older people.

For more information about alcohol and health, please see recent studies about chronic alcohol drinking may cause these 2 mental diseases and results showing that this vitamin deficiency may lead to alcohol-related dementia.

The study is published in Ophthalmology. One author of the study is Dr. Anthony P Khawaja.

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