A research team from NIHR Moorfields Biomedical Research Centre at Moorfields Eye Hospital NHS Foundation Trust and UCL Institute of Ophthalmology in the US has conducted a study according to which people who consume alcohol moderately appear less likely to develop cataracts that require surgery.
Wine consumption showed the strongest protective effect, suggesting that antioxidants which are abundant in red wine may play a role in cataract prevention. However, people who drank daily or nearly daily had about a 6 percent higher risk of cataract surgery compared with people who consumed alcohol moderately.
Previous studies on cataracts and alcohol consumption were limited in their design and offered mixed results, ranging from an increased risk from heavy drinking, to reduced risk from low to moderate drinking to no link at all between alcohol and cataracts.
This study, the largest of its kind, tracked 490,000 volunteers in the UK who agreed to give detailed information about their health and lifestyle throughout their lives.
"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," said lead researcher Anthony P. Khawaja, M.D. "This does support a direct role of alcohol in the development of cataract, but further studies are needed to investigate this."