Study: Alcohol consumption linked to lower cataract risk


A study conducted in the United Kingdom has linked alcohol consumption to a reduced risk of undergoing cataract surgery.

A cataract is a medical condition in which the eye lens becomes progressively opaque, resulting in blurred vision.

In the study published in the journal Ophthalmology, British researchers who consumed up to 14 units of alcohol a week were found to have reported less chance of developing cataracts, especially if they drank red wine.

The researchers at Moorfields Eye Hospital in London and University College London’s Institute of Ophthalmology studied the medical history of 492,549 people in either the UK Biobank or Epic Norfolk studies of people’s health.

They noted 19,011 and 4,573 cases of cataract surgery in the UK Biobank and EPIC-Norfolk cohorts, respectively.

After adjustment for covariates, the alcohol drinkers were less likely to undergo cataract surgery than nondrinkers in the UK Biobank and EPIC-Norfolk cohorts (hazard ratios, 0.89 and 0.90, respectively).

Greater alcohol consumption was associated with a reduced risk for undergoing cataract surgery among alcohol consumers in EPIC-Norfolk, while in the U.K. Biobank, the investigators observed a u-shaped association.

The strongest association was seen with wine consumption, with a 23 and 14 percent lower risk of cataract surgery among those in the top category of wine consumption in the EPIC-Norfolk and UK Biobank cohorts, respectively.

On the findings, Sharon Chua, the first author of the study, said: “Cataract development may be due to gradual damage from oxidative stress during aging.

“The fact that our findings were particularly evident in wine drinkers may suggest a protective role of polyphenol antioxidants, which are especially abundant in red wine.”

Anthony Khawaja, who led the research, added: “We observed a dose-response with our findings.

“In other words, there was evidence for reducing the chance of requiring future cataract surgery with progressively higher alcohol intake, but only up to moderate levels within current guidelines.”

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Elena Johaness

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