Corneal Physician Bulletin: Drinking Appears to Lower Cataract Surgery Risk

            People who consume low to moderate amounts of alcohol, especially wine, seem to be at decreased risk for cataract surgery, though further research is needed to determine whether this link is causal, 
reports a recent study in Ophthalmology.
            Specifically, of 469,387 UK Biobank cohort study participants (mean age 56) and 23,162 European Prospective Investigation of Cancer (EPIC)-Norfolk cohort participants (mean age 59), 19,011 (mean cohort follow-up of almost 8 years) and 4,573 (mean cohort follow-up of a little more than 16 years) of UK Biobank participants and Cancer patients, respectively, underwent cataract surgery, with drinkers in both groups less likely to have the procedure after adjusting for covariables. Additionally, wine had the strongest protective link, with the risk of cataract surgery 23% and 14% less among those in the highest category of wine drinking in EPIC-Norfolk and UK Biobank, respectively, the study reveals.
             “…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,” explains Dr. Sharon Chua, one of the study’s researchers, in a related press release. 
            The UK Biobank group reported their alcohol consumption at baseline via touchscreen questionnaire, while the EPIC-Norfolk group filled out a food-frequency questionnaire. The researchers determined cataract surgery via National Health Service procedure statistics, though participants who had cataract surgery up to 1 year after the baseline assessment visit or those who self-reported cataract at baseline were omitted. Additionally, the researchers used Cox proportional hazards models to assess the associations of drinking with incident cataract surgery, adjusted for age, sex, ethnicity, Townsend deprivation index, body mass index, smoking and diabetes status. CP
Ophthalmology. doi: 10.1016/j.ophtha.2021.02.007. Online ahead of print.