Sunday, March 23, 2014
A Beer A Day Keeps The Eye Doctor Away?
"Visual impairment" - loss of sight caused by eye disease, trauma or a congenital or degenerative condition that cannot be corrected by glasses - is on the rise. In fact, projections estimate that by 2020 there will be at least 4 million people in the US with visual impairment - a 70% increase from 2000. This is because, while the population is increasingly living to older ages, age-related eye diseases remain common.
The researchers, from the University of Wisconsin School of Medicine, analyzed data from the Beaver Dam Eye study, a long-term study that followed nearly 5,000 participants aged 43-84 years between 1988 and 2013. This new study examines to what extent certain modifiable lifestyle behaviors like smoking, drinking alcohol and physical exercise have on on visual impairment.
The researchers found that people who exercised three or more times a week were less likely to get visual impairment. About 2% of physically active people became visually impaired, compared with 6.7% of people who led a sedentary lifestyle. When the researchers adjusted their findings for age, they found that physically active people were 58% less likely to develop visual impairment than sedentary people.
What's interesting is that non-drinkers were more likely to become visually impaired than occasional drinkers - 11% of non-drinkers developed visual impairment, compared with 4.8% of occasional drinkers. Therefore, adjusting for age, the researchers calculated that occasional drinkers were 49% less likely to become visually impaired than people who abstain from alcohol.
Although occasional drinking seemed to protect against visual impairment, the researchers did find that heavy drinkers and smokers were slightly more at risk of developing visual impairment, but that the risk increase was not enough to be statistically significant.
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