A new study has found moderate red wine consumption can cut by half the risk of developing cataracts.

The research formed part of the larger Reykjavik Eye Study, a five-year investigation into age-related eye disease that initially included 1,045 people, all over the age of 50. Data on 846 people was included in the cataract study.

Beginning in 1996, subjects underwent eye examinations and filled in detailed questionnaires on their drinking habits. Of the 846 participants, 318 were classified as drinkers, of which 300 were ‘moderate’ drinkers and 18 ‘heavy’ drinkers.

After five years, 32.2% of the non-drinkers and 22% of the drinkers had cataracts. Of the drinkers, beer drinkers faced the highest risk, followed by hard liquor drinkers and red wine drinkers. White wine was not included in the study because, as the researchers noted, it is not commonly consumed in Iceland, where the investigation took place.

After accounting for age, smoking habits, diabetes and other factors, the researchers found moderate wine drinkers reduced their incidence of developing any kind of cataracts by about 50%, compared to non-drinkers.

Written by Tony Aspler