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Study finds alcohol consumption linked to lower risk of cataract surgery

Researchers discover that low to moderate alcohol consumption is associated with a lower chance of requiring cataract surgery

red wine

A new study has found that adults who consumed alcohol within the maximum UK weekly limit of 14 units per week were less likely to undergo cataract surgery.

The research, which was published in Ophthalmology, involved analysing data from more than 490,000 people captured in the UK Biobank and EPIC-Norfolk cohort studies.

The most significant reduction in the risk of requiring cataract surgery was among wine drinkers.

Scientists found that individuals who drank wine five or more times per week were 23% less likely to develop cataracts than non-drinkers in the EPIC-Norfolk study and 14% less likely in the UK Biobank study.

Although the research found an association between low to moderate alcohol consumption and a lower risk of cataract surgery, a causal link was not definitively proven.

Study author, Dr Anthony P Khawaja, highlighted that further research was needed to investigate the role of alcohol in the development of cataracts.

“We observed a dose-response with our findings – in other words, there was evidence for reducing chance of requiring future cataract surgery with progressively higher alcohol intake, but only up to moderate levels within current guidelines,” he said.

Fellow study author, Dr Sharon Chua, highlighted that cataracts may be caused by oxidative stress due to ageing.

“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,” she said.

The research was carried out by a team of scientists from the NIHR Biomedical Research Centre at Moorfields Eye Hospital NHS Foundation Trust and UCL Institute of Ophthalmology.

OT talks with study authors Dr Anthony Khawaja and Dr Sharon Chua about their research examining the association between alcohol intake and cataracts