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Red wine consumption decreases risk of cataract

MEDIA RELEASE

15 August 2005

Red wine consumption decreases the risk of cataract.

That is the conclusion of researchers in the Reykjavik Eye Study who have followed the health and diet of a group of over 55 year olds for a period of five years. The study examined the progression of age-related eye disease in Iceland and was mainly concerned with cataract, glaucoma, and age-related macular degeneration.

The alcohol consumption research was designed to look at whether there was an association between cataract development and alcohol use. Results showed that non-drinkers and heavy drinkers of any sort of alcohol had a substantially increased risk for cataract development, while moderate red wine drinkers had only half the risk.

For red wine drinkers, moderate consumption was anything between two glasses per month to two or three glasses per day. Moderate red wine drinking had the largest protective effect, but drinking moderate amounts of spirits, such as whiskey or brandy, also had a protective effect - just not as strong. Beer drinkers, on the other hand, had an increased risk of developing cataracts.

The New Zealand Association of Optometrists welcomes these new findings. The Association has been urging people to eat for eye health in a bid to reduce the burden of eye disease for our senior citizens.

"Healthy eating just got more attractive", says Dr Lesley Frederikson, National Director of the NZ Association of Optometrists, "people understand the benefits of the Mediterranean diet for reduced heart risk and now we find that it is good for your eyes as well"

Dr Frederikson recommends eating foods rich in vitamins, minerals and antioxidants; keeping fat intake low; and eating fish at least twice a week. "These have all been suggested as protective factors in relation to age-related eye disease such as macular degeneration" she says. "Now we can add in a glass or two of red wine and still be eating healthy".

As part of the annual Save our Sight Campaign, optometrists are encouraging people to take good care of their eyes throughout life to ensure good vision and maintenance of independent living into old age. Poor vision is associated with lower quality of life, depression, falls and fractures, and earlier need for institutionalised care.

Source:

H. Sasaki, F. Jonasson, Y. Suwa, M. Koike, N. Takahashi and K. Sasaki. The Protective Effect of Wine Intake on Five Year's Incidence of Cataract - Reykjavik Eye Study.

Invest Ophthalmol Vis Sci 2005;46: E-Abstract 3840. (ARVO 3840-B198)

Editorial

Save Our Sight Month raises awareness of eye health issues among the general public and targets at-risk groups to remind them of the need for regular, comprehensive eye examinations to detect eye health problems, general health issues, and vision difficulties.

The Save our Sight campaign is led by the NZ Association of Optometrists, endorsed and supported by Retina NZ, Glaucoma NZ, Diabetes NZ, the Save Sight Society and the Royal Australian and New Zealand College of Ophthalmology.

The symbol of the Save our Sight Campaign is the variegated Tulip. The Variegated Tulip signifies "Beautiful Eyes".

ENDS

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