Source: Ophthalmology. 2014;doi:10.1016/J.ophtha.2014.01.003.
March 20, 2014
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Study: Physical activity, occasional drinking associated with less visual impairment

Source: Ophthalmology. 2014;doi:10.1016/J.ophtha.2014.01.003.
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Occasional alcohol consumption and staying physically active were associated with lower odds of developing visual impairment, a study found.

The Beaver Dam Eye Study began with 4,926 people between the ages of 43 years and 86 years at baseline. Twenty years later, 1,913 people participated in a follow-up examination. The main outcome of this report was the change in the number of letters read correctly and the incidence of visual impairment, as measured by best corrected visual acuity.

The researchers found that the cumulative incidence of visual impairment was 5.4%, with a loss of 6.6 letters, at 20 years.

Sedentary people and those who had not consumed alcohol over the past year had higher odds of visual impairment than those who drank occasionally or were physically active. Current or past smokers lost a greater numbers of letters.

The associations between physical activity and visual impairment and between smoking and number of letters lost have been shown in previous studies.

The study authors said there was no statistically significant protective association of drinking alcoholic beverages and no deleterious associations of heavy drinking regarding the change in number of letters read or incidence of visual impairment.

“The deleterious effect in [this study] may have been found because nondrinkers were more likely to be older and to have medical conditions that may have caused them to stop drinking,” the authors said.

Further investigation of physical activity, smoking and drinking alcoholic beverages and how they affect vision are needed because of the growing burden of visual impairment in the aging population.