Alcohol Abuse may contribute to Degenerative Eye Disease

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Yet another reason not to abuse alcohol has been presented by The Centre for Eye Research Australia (CERA). The research institute has found a link between moderate levels of drinking and age related blindness. What makes this study significant is that it relates to even moderate drinkers not just those who abuse alcohol or drink excessively. By consuming alcohol, drinkers are putting themselves at the risk of developing age related macular degeneration (AMD), which is the most common cause of blindness in Oz.

The disease AMD negatively affects the macula of the eye (the central area of the retina). Researchers also revealed that early signs of the disease can be detected in 1 out of 7 Australians over 50 years of age which is the main cause of blindness in the country. All it takes is just 2 glasses of wine or beer a day for one’s eye sight to deteriorate, according to the research.

This article as posted on CERA’s website highlights the results of the research:

Researchers examined data from 20,963 participants in The Melbourne Collaborative Cohort Study, aged 40-69 between 1990-1994. They compared alcohol intake recorded in baseline surveys to AMD prevalence determined between 2003-2007.

Consuming more than 20g of alcohol per day, the current Australian recommendation for maximum daily intake, was associated with an increase in early AMD of approximately 20% for both women and men, compared to non-drinkers. This was significant after adjusting for other known AMD associated risk factors including sex, age, smoking, and diet.

A standard glass of wine and a standard glass or bottle of beer contain approximately 15g of alcohol each, while a nip of spirits contains approximately 10g of alcohol.

Lead author Dr Madeleine Adams observed, “While previous studies have illustrated the risks of heavy drinking to eye health, until now there was little evidence regarding the association between moderate alcohol consumption and early AMD.”

“Our study shows that even what most Australians would consider to be a moderate intake of 2 glasses of beer or wine a day can also increase your risk of developing AMD, compared to non-drinkers,” she said.


This research highlights the need for moderation in alcohol consumption. Moderate drinkers have been proven to have better health and live longer than those who are heavy drinkers. Moderate consumption of alcohol is acceptable however excessive drinking leads to many health related problems later in life such as heart attacks and strokes, diabetes, dementia, arthritis, enlarged prostates etc. Now we can add blindness to the list of long term health effects. For those of us lucky enough to live into our old age, our quality of life is something that worries most people, which is why by taking care of our bodies now, we will reap the rewards later in life. No one wants to go into their final years with diseases such as the ones mentioned or even more debilitating conditions such as blindness which would require constant care and supervision.


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