By the age of 80, more than half of all Americans will develop cataracts—a clouding of the eye lens, which can interfere with vision, reading, and driving, especially at night.
Even worse? Once you develop a cataract, having surgery is the only way to remove it.
Fortunately, as I’ll explain in a moment, a new study just found that enjoying this so-called “vice” could help PROTECT you from ever developing this common eye problem as you get older. (It may even be something you already do!)
But first, let’s talk about a few other simple steps you can take, starting today, to help PREVENT cataracts from ever forming…
You CAN prevent cataracts from forming
The most common advice doled out about preventing cataracts involves wearing protective eyewear that blocks harmful ultra-violet (UV) light. But there’s actually a whole lot more you can do than just wearing good, UV-blocking sunglasses (and a hat) when out in the sun…
In fact, the well-known, natural approaches that help support the large blood vessels around your body also help the tiny, sensitive blood vessels in your eyes. (Experts actually consider the eyes as a kind of “window” into your body. The health of those tiny blood vessels reflect the health of all the blood vessels in your body.)
So, for example, the tiny blood vessels in the eyes respond quite well to some very specific approaches that improve circulation, tame harmful inflammation, and reduce harmful free radicals. Including eating blue, purple, and dark, ruby-red fruits that contain anthocyanins— potent antioxidants that help strengthen blood vessels, including those in the retina.
Getting some moderate exercise can also help support eye health and even prevent cataracts. (But remember, excessive exercise poses a risk to the eyes…and increases a person’s risk of developing age-related macular degeneration. So, as always, continue to practice moderation in all things—including exercise—to help protect your health…including your vision!)
Plus, as I reported a few years ago, there are nine foods that can cut your cataract risk as you get older.
In that same vein, the new study I mentioned earlier shows that moderate alcohol consumption also seems to PROTECT the eyes against cataracts. Probably due to its positive effect on the blood and circulation…
Moderate drinking supports eye health
For this new study, researchers tracked health and lifestyle factors among nearly half-a-million people in the U.K. They accounted for factors known to influence the cataract risk—including age, sex, weight, and chronic conditions, such as Type II diabetes.
It turns out, people who consumed about seven standard glasses of wine per week were less likely to require cataract surgery compared to those who completely abstained from alcohol.
Specifically, compared to abstainers, those who drank moderate, weekly amounts of:
- Red wine had a 14 to 23 percent lower risk.
- White wine and champagne had a 10 percent lower risk.
- Beer had a 13 percent lower risk.
- Spirits had a 14 percent lower risks.
Plus, those who consumed less than seven drinks per week still reaped some benefits…they were just less significant. Specifically, people who consumed any type of alcohol once or twice per week, or three to four times per week, had a 7 and 6 percent lower risk, respectively, compared to those who rarely or never drank.
Researchers think that the antioxidants in alcohol, such as flavonoids and polyphenols, can help explain the benefits, since cataracts result from gradual damage due to oxidative stress during aging. Red wine, specifically, seems to offer the most protection—which makes sense, as it contains more polyphenols than other types of alcohol.
Moderate drinking helps support healthy circulation throughout the body—and especially to the heart and brain. Which likely also helps explain why moderate drinkers experience less heart disease, dementia, and even Type II diabetes than teetotalers, especially as they get older.
Ignore the naysayers who insist you must abstain from all alcohol
In an interview following the study’s publication, one practicing ophthalmologist reacted that the research couldn’t “prove” alcohol promotes eye health.
Well, what study can “prove “anything?! (Remember—I rarely ever use the words “prove” or “proven” in my writing, as science is always evolving and changing.)
Then, the all-knowing ophthalmologist added, “…I will certainly not be telling my patients to drink small amounts of alcohol to decrease the chance of cataract surgery.”
No big surprise there, either. After all, what will the eye surgeons do when patients enjoy a drink or two with dinner…and don’t need eye surgery anymore?!
In the end, my recommendation to you is this: Go ahead and enjoy a glass or two of wine, beer, or spirits with dinner—as part of a healthy, balanced diet. Your mind and your body will benefit…including, perhaps, your vision!
I also talked about seven, easy, natural ways to reduce your risk of macular degeneration, cataracts, and other age-related vision problems in the May 2017 issue of my Insiders’ Cures newsletter, (“Forget those eyeglasses!”). Subscribers to my newsletter have access to that article as well as all my archives. So, if you’re not yet a subscriber, now is the perfect time to get started.
“Alcohol Consumption and Incident Cataract Surgery in Two Large UK Cohorts.” Ophthalmology, 2/8/21; 128(6):P837-847. doi.org/10.1016/j.ophtha.2021.02.007.
“Could a Few Glasses of Wine Per Week Help Ward Off Cataracts?” HealthDay, 4/1/21. (consumer.healthday.com/sb-4-1-could-a-few-glasses-of-wine-per-week-help-ward-off-cataracts-2651256596.html)