This Activity May Increase Your Risk of Developing AMD and other Vision Problems

This Activity May Increase Your Risk of Developing AMD and other Vision Problems

Relaxing has been associated with watching television, having a nice meal and for some, consuming alcohol. It is no surprise however that excessive alcohol consumption, like most things in excess, can be detrimental to your health.

Yet, with many studies that make alcohol seem benign such as showing how a glass of wine per day is good for you, it does leave the possibility for some to use this research to go too far. Add in the many ways alcohol presents itself, particularly at parties, holidays, and dinners and you may be drinking way more than you should. In addition to your liver taking the brunt of your alcohol consumption, it looks like you may be affecting your vision as well.

Various studies show a multitude of risks linked to drinking alcohol and vision problems, especially age-related macular degeneration (AMD) one of the number one leading cause of blindness in individuals over age 50, so you may want to take heed the next time you imbibe.

Blind Drunk

Most are aware of the vision blurring effects from drinking too much alcohol. Sometimes it doesn’t take much, especially on an empty stomach and before you know it, two drinks in and you could be seeing double. Of course this symptom dissipates over time, but the lasting effects could be inconspicuous until it is too late.

According to a recent study conducted by Dr David Teenan, a fellow of the Royal College of Ophthalmologists and UK Medical Director at Optical Express, it was found that the toxins developed as a result of drinking alcohol could be doing irreversible damage to various parts of your eyes.

Dr. Teenan comments,

“Toxins from alcohol in the blood stream will also reduce the flow of nutrients to the nerves and macula – the part of the eye that helps us focus our vision – leading to macular degeneration. Exceeding the government’s recommended maximum weekly intake of 14 units on a regular basis [UK standards] is dangerous and can lead to trouble further down the line. Prolonged heavy drinking can seriously impact eye health including the formation of cataracts, age-related macular degeneration, and in some cases complete blindness. A whole new meaning for the phrase ‘blind drunk’.”

Your Social Drinking

The term ‘social drinking’ indicates an occasional gathering that involves moderate drinking. However, this could be a slippery slope as it may become an excuse to drink excessively. Either way, an Australian study published in the American Journal of Epidemiology titled, ‘20/20—Alcohol and Age-related Macular Degeneration The Melbourne Collaborative Cohort Study’ states,

“Most previous studies have reported an increased risk of late AMD associated with heavy drinking and positive associations of borderline significance between drinking and early AMD. Our results suggest that it is not only high levels of consumption that are deleterious to eye health; levels considered to be “social” or “moderate” increased the risk of early AMD.”

Cataract Risk

It is estimated that half of Americans age eighty and up will develop cataracts. Cataracts are the clouding of the lens of the eye making vision difficult which may eventually need surgery to repair. Now, in addition to the risk of simply getting older, when one spends their life drinking alcohol on a regular basis the development of cataracts may be more rapid.

Boston University School of Medicine published the study ‘Alcohol consumption affects risk of cataracts’ concluding that,

“A total of 3,654 persons aged 49+ years were examined at baseline and 2,564 were re-examined after 5 and/or 10 years…A U-shaped association of alcohol consumption with the long-term risk of cataract surgery was found in this older cohort: moderate consumption was associated with 50% lower cataract surgery incidence, compared either to abstinence or heavy alcohol consumption.”

Add a Vice

Some people like to smoke tobacco when they have a few drinks, others are addicted to tobacco and smoke everyday. Either way, this added vice can considerably increase your chances of AMD and other vision risks, including cataracts.

Australian researchers published their findings, known as the Blue Mountains Eye Study, in the Archives of Ophthalmology. It concluded that,

“Consistent with other studies, smoking was associated with a higher prevalence of nuclear and posterior subcapsular cataracts. The only adverse effect of alcohol was among smokers: people who smoked and drank heavily had an increased prevalence of nuclear cataract.”

Overall, alcohol in moderation seems to be fairly safe. However, if you find yourself consuming more than a moderate amount such as a few drinks once per week then maybe reducing your intake will benefit your future vision health.