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Study: Drinking wine may reduce risk of cataracts

Well here is some news which might be well received by many! Next time you’re considering whether to open a bottle of vino, some new research may help make up your mind.

We’ve all heard that red wine can offer some benefit when it comes to reducing heart attack risk. And now, a new study out of Britain – and the largest ever of its kind – has found that drinking the right amount of red wine may help prevent cataracts, an eye condition which causes cloudy vision and is a major cause of impaired eyesight, mainly in older people.

The study, carried out by Moorfields Eye Hospital NHS Foundation Trust and University College London's Institute of Ophthalmology, found that drinkers who consumed up to 14 units of alcohol per week – the maximum recommended by health professionals – were less likely to need the operation to remove cloudy patches from the lens of the eye.

Risk was lower among wine drinkers than those who consumed beer or spirits.

Antioxidants found in wine could help explain why moderate drinkers are at up to 23% less risk of having to have cataract surgery than people who shun alcohol, the researchers believe.

The study looked at the medical and lifestyle history of over 490,000 participants in two regions within the UK.

Fourteen units of alcohol per week is the equivalent of about 6.5 standard glasses of wine per week.

“Cataract development may be due to gradual damage from oxidative stress during 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,” said Dr Sharon Chua, the first author of the findings, which have been published in the journal Ophthalmology.

The experts noted, however, that drinking large amounts of alcohol is linked to a range of serious health conditions such as heart disease, diabetes and cancer.

Prevent cataracts with regular eye examinations

Blurred vision, halos and light sensitivity may not appear until cataracts are well developed. So make sure you have an eye examination with an optometrist every 2-3 years, and annually after the age of 60.

Please use our Find an Optometrist search function to find your local optometrist.

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