The consumption of alcohol may reduce the risk of blindness from age-related macular degeneration (AMD), the major causes of blindness among those over age 65, according to a new study based on data collected by the federal government. Those who drank were found to be less likely to suffer this serious disease than were abstainers.

These findings may be especially important because there is currently no known way to prevent the disease and no known therapy to reduce the permanent blindness it causes. And AMD is expected to increase as the population ages.

More research is needed to confirm and clarify these very encouraging findings in other samples. While the most positive results were found at higher levels of consumption, the effect of different drinking levels needs to be examined in detail. It appears that while abstaining might increase the chances of becoming blind from AMD, other risk factors include cigarette smoking and prolonged, unprotected visual exposure to bright sunlight.


  • Obisesan, T., et al. Moderate wine consumption is associated with decreased odds of developing age-related macular degeneration in NHANSES-1. Journal of the American Geriatrics Society, 1998, 46, 1-7.

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