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J Am Geriatr Soc. 1998 Jan;46(1):1-7.

Moderate wine consumption is associated with decreased odds of developing age-related macular degeneration in NHANES-1.

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  • 1Department of Internal Medicine, Howard University Hospital, Washington, DC 20060, USA.



To determine the association between alcohol intake and the risk of developing age-related macular degeneration (AMD).


Case control study.


The sample consisted of 3072 adults 45 to 74 years of age with macular changes indicative of AMD who participated in a nationally representative sample of the first National Health Nutrition and Examination Survey (NHANES-1) between 1971 and 1975: (a) the ophthalmology data set and (b) the medical history questionnaire.


Alcohol intake and the risk of developing AMD were measured. AMD was determined by staff at the National Eye Institute by fundoscopy examination using standardized protocol.


Overall, 184 individuals (6%) had AMD. We observed a statistically significant but negative association between AMD and the type of alcohol consumed in a bivariate model (OR 0.86; 95% CI 0.73, 0.99). In the same model, age maintained a consistently strong association with AMD (OR 1.08; 95% CI 1.06-1.11; P < .001). Among the different types of alcohol consumed in NHANES-1 (beer, wine, and liquor), the effect of wine, either alone (OR 0.66; 95% CI 0.55-0.79) or in combination with beer (OR 0.66; 95% CI 0.55-0.79) or liquor (OR 0.74; 95% CI 0.63-0.86), dominated the negative association observed between AMD and alcohol type. Additionally, a statistically significant and negative association between wine and AMD was noted after adjusting for the effect of age, gender, income, history of congestive heart failure, and hypertension (OR 0.81; 95% CI 0.67-0.99).


Moderate wine consumption is associated with decreased odds of developing AMD. Health promotion and disease prevention activities directed at cardiovascular disease may help reduce the rate of AMD-associated blindness among older people. The nature and pathophysiology of this association warrant further investigation.

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