Drinking one to two alcoholic beverages per day may be associated with a 50 per cent decrease in long-term cataract surgery risk, a study found.
In the prospective, population-based Blue Mountains Eye Study (BMES), 3,654 Australian subjects age 49 years and older were examined at baseline; with 2,564 subjects followed up at five years and/or 10 years. Participants were interviewed to determine their alcohol consumption.
While there was no distinct link between alcohol consumption and long-term risk of cataract surgery found in initial stages of the research, the link was identified once the data was adjusted for age, gender, smoking, diabetes, myopia, socioeconomic status and steroid use.
The study found subjects who drank two or more alcoholic beverages per day, as well as those who did not drink at all, showed a higher incidence of cataract surgery than those who drank one to two alcoholic beverages per day.
Long-term follow-up data from this older population-based cohort suggest that moderate consumption of alcohol may be associated with a reduced need for cataract surgery
“Long-term follow-up data from this older population-based cohort suggest that moderate consumption of alcohol may be associated with a reduced need for cataract surgery,” the authors said. “These findings should be interpreted with caution and need confirmation from future studies.”
The development of cataract is part of the normal ageing process. According to the Centre for Vision Research, the proportion of people with cataract doubles with each decade from the age of 40. By their eighties, 80 per cent of people will have some cataract present, including 30 per cent who have had cataract surgery on one or both eyes.
In Australia, cataract surgery is now the most frequent operation performed. Significantly improved vision occurs in about 95 per cent of surgical cases.