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Am J Prev Med. 1994 May-Jun;10(3):156-61.

A prospective study of alcohol consumption and risk of cataract.

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Channing Laboratory, Department of Medicine, Harvard Medical School, Boston, MA.


The role of alcohol as a determinant of age-related cataract is largely unexplored, although a possible influence has been suggested by previous retrospective and cross-sectional studies. We used the prospective data base of the Physicians' Health Study to examine the association between alcohol consumption and incidence of cataract as well as cataract extraction among U.S. male physicians. Participants in the Physicians' Health Study, a randomized trial of aspirin and beta-carotene among 22,071 male physicians 40-84 years of age at entry in 1982, were included in these analyses if they did not report cataract at baseline and if they provided information about alcohol consumption and other cataract risk factors. A total of 17,824 physicians satisfied these criteria. An incident cataract was defined as a self-report confirmed by medical record review, first diagnosed after randomization, with an age-related cause, and responsible for a reduction in best corrected visual acuity to 20/30 or worse. During 88,565 person-years of follow-up, 371 participants had a confirmed incident cataract and 110 underwent cataract extraction. Compared to physicians consuming alcohol less than once per month, daily consumers of alcohol had an age-adjusted relative risk (RR) of cataract of 1.31 (95% confidence interval [CI] = 0.95, 1.81). For posterior subcapsular (PSC) cataract, the most disabling subtype in terms of vision loss, the RR was 1.38 (95% CI = 0.84, 2.27); for PSC cataract extraction, the RR was 1.43 (95% CI = 0.71, 2.88).(ABSTRACT TRUNCATED AT 250 WORDS).

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