If you love the weird glasses of wine of the week, a new study will come to music to your ears.
Researchers have found that drinking alcohol in moderation reduces the risk of needing eye cataract surgery by almost a quarter.
The study found that drinking wine was the most effective, with five or more glasses per week reducing the need for eye cataract surgery by 23%.
While the reason for the link remains uncertain, experts suggest that polyphenol antioxidants – which are particularly abundant in red wine – may have a protective role.
The study found that drinking wine was the most effective, with five or more glasses per week reducing the need for eye cataract surgery by 23% (stock image)
What are cataracts?
Cataracts occur when the lens – a small, transparent disc inside the eye that helps focus light – becomes cloudy.
The patches get progressively larger over time, according to the NHS, and can lead to blurred vision and, in some cases, blindness.
Cataracts affect around half of people over 65 in the UK. Some 24 million adults over the age of 40 in the United States are suffering, according to the figures.
In children, they are much less common, with about one in 3,000 being born with them or developing them in childhood.
The study, conducted by Moorfields Eye Hospital NHS Foundation Trust and University College London’s Institute of Ophthalmology, found that drinkers who consumed up to 14 units per week – the maximum recommended by the NHS – were less likely to have the operation to remove cloudy spots. of the lens of the eye.
The most significant reduction in risk was linked to drinking wine rather than beer or spirits, with people who drank wine five or more times per week up to 23% less likely than non-drinkers to have surgery cataract.
However, people who drank a lot of beer, cider, or spirits did not have a significantly reduced risk.
“Our results suggest a lower risk of having cataract surgery with low to moderate alcohol consumption,” the researchers said.
Fourteen units of alcohol per week equals about six pints of medium-strength beer or 10 small glasses of low-strength wine.
A 750 ml bottle of red, white or rosé wine (alcohol by volume 13.5%) contains 10 units.
The research is the largest of its kind to date and looked at data from more than 490,000 people in the UK Biobank and EPIC-Norfolk cohort studies.
A team of experts compared the amount of people who reported drinking with the records of cataract surgery patients, adjusting for factors that might influence the outcome, such as age, weight and gender.
Cataracts occur when the lens – a small, transparent disc inside the eye that helps focus light – becomes cloudy
Writing in the journal Ophthalmology, they concluded: “Our results suggest a lower risk of having cataract surgery with low to moderate alcohol consumption. The association was particularly evident with the consumption of wine.
Experts have noted, however, that drinking large amounts of alcohol is linked to a range of serious health problems such as heart disease, diabetes, and cancer.
It is estimated that 30% of people over 65 have cataracts that affect their vision in one or both eyes.
Cataract surgery involves replacing the lens with a clear plastic lens.
Dr Anthony P Khawaja, who led the research, said: “We observed a dose response with our results – in other words, there was evidence to reduce the risk of requiring future cataract surgery. with progressively higher alcohol consumption, but only to moderate levels within current guidelines.
“This confirms the direct role of alcohol in the development of cataracts, but more studies are needed to investigate this point. “
Dr Sharon Chua, who also worked on the study, said: “The fact that our results are particularly evident in wine drinkers may suggest a protective role for polyphenol antioxidants, which are particularly abundant in red wine. “
How to protect your vision from cataracts
Get regular eye checks
Blurry vision, halos, and sensitivity to light may not appear until cataracts are well developed. So get an eye exam every two years and every year after the age of 60. If they spot one, your optician can refer you to an NHS specialist. Private clinics offer surgery between £ 2,000 and £ 4,000 per eye. The NHS performs more than 400,000 such operations per year.
Prof. David Gartry, ophthalmologist, says: “Cataract surgery is a safe procedure that can significantly improve the situation when the cataracts have progressed enough to seriously impair vision and affect quality of life.
Blurred vision, halos, and sensitivity to light may not appear until the cataracts are well developed. So do an eye exam every two years and once a year after age 60
Dive into green vegetables
Eat plenty of dark green leafy vegetables because they contain antioxidants that can fight stress that damages lens tissue cells. “When symptoms first appear, you can improve your vision for a while with new glasses or stronger lighting, but your vision will gradually deteriorate over time,” says Professor Gartry.
Know the warning signs
One of the most common types of cataracts is called nuclear and begins in the center of the lens. “One of the first signs of one is when a patient becomes more myopic after years of a regular prescription,” says Professor Gartry. “This is because the nucleus of the lens concentrates more light if it contains a cataract.