Consuming More than One Drink a Day May Increase AMD Risk

August 23, 2012
A 21,000-participant study suggests that moderate alcohol consumption — more than one drink per day — increases the risk of early age-related macular degeneration (AMD) by 20 percent and advanced AMD by 44 percent. The report in the American Journal of Epidemiology was authored by investigators from the Centre for Eye Research Australia.

The research team says that, until its study, there was little evidence associating AMD with moderate alcohol consumption. Prior studies indicated that heavy alcohol consumption — more than three drinks per day — increased early AMD risk.

Participants in the study, aged 40 to 69 years at enrollment, were initially interviewed about their alcohol consumption between 1990 and 1994. During follow-up interviews, between 2003 and 2007, photographs of their retinas were taken to assess signs of AMD.

The study evaluated alcohol consumption independent from other AMD risk factors, including smoking, diet, age and genetics.

In the study, moderate drinking was considered to be at least 20 grams of alcohol per day. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention says that a standard drink — a 12-ounce beer, 5 ounces of wine (a typical half glass) or a 1.5-ounce shot of liquor — has approximately 14 grams of alcohol.