Q: I have a family history of macular degeneration. I enjoy wine, and read somewhere it may help protect my eyes. Is that true? -K. G., Fort Lauderdale, Fla.
A: Age-related macular degeneration, or AMD, is the most prevalent eye disease in people over 60. It's a condition that damages the part of the eye called the macula, which is responsible for distinguishing fine detail. AMD sufferers' eyesight gradually becomes blurrier, and they tend to lose their central vision. There have been studies which suggest that wine can lower the risk of diabetic retinopathy, lower the risk of long-term visual impairment and reduce the incidence of eye opacity. With AMD, there is no known cure, but there are treatments that can slow its progression./p>
As for how wine may influence your AMD risk, Prof. Helena Conibear, codirector of the International Scientific Forum on Alcohol Research, advises, "As with many things, it is all a matter of dose-drinking within the recommended dietary guidelines will not increase your risk. There is, however, strong evidence that smokers are four times more likely to develop AMD than someone who's never smoked, and prolonged heavy drinking and binge drinking can seriously impact eye health, including the formation of cataracts and age-related macular degeneration."
Consult your ophthalmologist to determine your best treatment or prevention strategy for AMD or any other ocular disease.