SAN FRANCISCO: Beer goggles may take on a reverse meaning as new study links occasional alcohol consumption with a reduced risk of developing a visual impairment.
According to the study published online recently in Ophthamology, a journal of the American Academy of Ophthalmology, a physical, active lifestyle and occasional drinking can reduce the risks of problems with vision.
The researchers found that over 20 years visual impairment developed in 5.4 percent of the population, but varied based on lifestyle behaviors.
The study indicates that 11 percent of non-drinkers (those who have not consumed alcohol in the past year), developed visual impairments, while in comparison, only 4.8 percent of occasional drinkers actually developed vision impairments.
Occasional drinkers were classed as those who have consumed alcohol in the last year, but who reported fewer than one serving in an average week. According to the researchers, after adjustment for age, the figures show a 49 percent decrease in odds of developing visual impairment in occasional drinkers compared to those who consumed no alcohol at all.
RESULTS MAY BE UNCLEAR
However, the researchers do caution of a limitation to their study, which is present in all epidemiological research. That is that the findings may be due, in part, to unmeasured factors related to both lifestyle behaviors and development of visual impairment. The data does not prove that these lifestyle behaviors are directly responsible for increased or decreased risks.
"While age is usually one of the most strongly associated factors for many eye diseases that cause visual impairment, it is a factor we cannot change," said Ronald Klein, M.D., MPH, lead researcher for the study.
"Lifestyle behaviors like smoking, drinking and physical activity, however, can be altered. So, it's promising, in terms of possible prevention, that these behaviors are associated with developing visual impairment over the long term. However, further research is needed to determine whether modifying these behaviors will in fact lead to a direct reduction in vision loss."
For more information about how lifestyle choices can affect eye health, visit the Academy's public education website www.geteyesmart.org.
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