We’re always looking for new ways to boost the health of our eyes, or watching out for lifestyle habits that can either negatively or positively impact vision. It’s a fairly well-known fact that the occasional glass of red wine is good for the heart, so what else is an occasional drink good for? Could it work to improve the strength of our eyes as well?
Currently research says that this concept is entirely possible. While further study into the area of occasional alcohol consumption and the health of our eyes is necessary, studies have indicated that partaking in occasional drinking may actually help to decrease the amount of vision loss as we age. Let’s look a bit further into this concept, as well as what vision decline and visual impairment actually are.
What is Visual Impairment and Visual Decline?
Visual impairment is a rather serious diagnosis. The term implies that you have an eye condition that has caused some level of vision loss. Visual impairment can be a result of a disease of the eye, a disease of the body that has affected the eyes (such as diabetes), or an eye injury. Furthermore, true visual impairment means that eyesight cannot be corrected through the use of corrective lenses (either glasses or contacts).
Visual decline is a situation in which your vision either slowly or quickly declines or decreases. You may go from having perfect eyesight to having severe degeneration in the eyes. This affects your visual acuity and can create a situation in which you can no longer do many of the things you’re used to, such as driving.
The Prognosis for Occasional Drinking and Your Eyes
Current research has shown that individuals that drink the occasional glass of wine developed visual impairment issues at a lower rate than those that didn’t drink at all. The problem? So far, researchers aren’t sure whether the occasional drink is the cause of fewer visual problems, or whether these individuals were simply less likely to develop them from the start. Essentially, the cause and effect factor has yet to be determined.
Despite this fact, the news is extremely promising. This is especially true in light of the fact that a simple pleasure like a glass of wine could help promote the health of your eyes, and that lifestyle factors like this are completely within our power to change.
Furthermore, this research shows that a very small amount of drinking is completely okay. Alcohol frequently gets a bad rap for general health problems, as well as visual impairment issues. In fact, excessive chronic drinking can lead to serious visual impairment, so knowing that some level is okay, and that it is beneficial, offers a great deal of hope to the occasional wine drinker.
According to this study, occasional drinking is defined as having less than one serving of alcohol per week. Although this seems rather unrealistic, it gives you a picture of just how much alcohol is beneficial to your eyes.
Medically, occasional drinking is generally considered anywhere from one to three servings a week. Having a glass or two of wine a week is considered healthy, and although studies into the impact of this level of drinking on vision have not yet been recorded, this amount of alcohol per week is not considered heavy drinking.
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Drinking and Visual Impairment Study
This was conducted on just under 5,000 Wisconsin adults between the ages of 43 and 84, between 1988 and 2013, and tracked the health of each participant’s eyes as they aged. Of the study participants, 5.4 percent of them developed visual impairment over the course of the study period.
The results found that 4.8 percent of occasional drinkers developed visual impairment, while 11 percent of nondrinkers developed visual impairment. Of course, you may be wondering whether or not external factors were taken into account. After all, the population surveyed was near middle age, and was recorded as they continued to age into their 80s.
Before tallying the final numbers to draw conclusions from this study, researchers took into account the age and natural age-related visual decline. Occasional drinkers were still found to be 49 percent less likely than their non-drinking counterparts to develop visual impairment issues.
According to this same study, individuals who are heavy smokers and heavy drinkers were found to be “somewhat” more likely than those who are nondrinkers and/or nonsmokers to experience visual impairment.
What Does This Mean for Us?
The rate of visual impairment and visual impairment issues is expected to climb within the next 10 years to a staggering four million. This is a nearly 70 percent increase from the number of visually impaired in 2000. What does this tell you? Basically, you’re going to need every factor you can change on your side.
Occasional drinking, taking a vitamin supplement, eating right, getting exercise, limiting screen time, and protecting your eyes when you’re out in the sun are all areas you have control over, and you can change. With this in mind, perhaps you can make yourself one less tally in the increasing rate of visually impaired.
What You Can Do
Interestingly enough, this same study also looked into the impact of physical exercise on visual health and found that two percent of those who engaged in physical activity three or more times a week experienced visual impairment, while 6.7 percent of their inactive study counterparts experienced visual impairment.
Keeping age-related visual decline in mind, the study concluded that individuals who engaged in physical exercise were 58 percent less likely to experience visual decline as they age.
Additionally, while this study did not address the use of a special eye health multivitamins, antioxidants like vitamin A, E, C, beta-carotene, zinc, and copper were all found to beneficial to eye health. Additionally, alpha lipoic acid has been touted as a super strength antioxidant, which serves to fight free-radical aging in both the body and the eyes.
Some great lifestyle changes you can make to protect your vision include taking a carefully formulated multivitamin, either limiting your drinking to one serving a week, or adding in a drink a week, and adding in at least three days of increased physical activity a week.