Alcohol consumption is dose-dependently associated with increased visual impairment (VI) incidence, researchers found in a study published in Nutrients.

Investigators conducted a longitudinal analysis of 287,352 participants (mean age 37.8±7.8 years, 57.6% men) who presented for annual or biennial health exams at 1 of 2 clinics. The participants self-reported physical activity, alcohol consumption, health habits, and medical history through standardized questionnaires. Researchers evaluated presenting visual acuity (VA) and defined VI as VA worse than 0.3 logMAR (20/40 Snellen) in both eyes.

At baseline, those who reported greater alcohol consumption tended to be older men with poor lipid profiles. These individuals often had high body mass index (BMI), liver enzyme, homeostatic model assessment of insulin resistance (HOMA-IR), high-sensitivity C-reactive protein (hsCRP), and total energy intake levels.


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Over the median follow-up of 4.9 years, there were 8320 new-onset VI incidents (6.0 per 1,000 person-years).

Researchers determined that increased alcohol intake was associated with increased  VI incident risk, and the correlation was dose-dependent. After adjusting for potential confounders, they found alcohol intake was associated with increased risk of incident VI compared with lifetime abstinence (<10 g/day: HR, 1.07, 95% CI, 0.96–1.19; 10 to <20 g/day: HR, 1.15, 95% CI, 1.03–1.30; 20-39.9 g/day: HR, 1.15, 95% CI, 1.01–1.30;  ≥40 g/day: HR, 1.23, 95% CI, 1.08–1.40).

The team also noted that men who formerly consumed alcohol had an increased risk of incident VI compared with those who abstained for a lifetime (HR, 1.69; 95% CI, 1.12-2.55). Men who drank alcohol more frequently and consumed more drinks within a day had a higher risk of VI. Women had a higher risk of VI if they drank more alcoholic beverages per day, but there was no association with frequency of drinking, according to the report.

“VI risk was significantly associated with the amount of alcohol consumption, binge drinking, and frequency of binge drinking,” according to the researchers. “Our findings highlight the importance of refraining from heavy and binge drinking to decrease the risk of VI and reduce the ocular health burden.”

Study limitations include lack of best-corrected VA assessment, possible self-report bias of ocular disorders, and failure to differentiate between different alcoholic beverage types.

Reference

Han SY, Chang Y, Kim Y, Choi CY, Ryu S. A dose-reponse relationship of alcohol consumption with risk of visual impairment in Korean adults: the Kangbuk Samsung Health Study. Nutrients. 2022;14(4):791. doi:10.3390/nu14040791