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Wine Consumption May Prevent Vision Loss

A recent report in the Journal of the American Geriatrics Society indicates that the incidence of age related macular degeneration (AMD) was reduced in people consuming wine. Wine drinkers were 19% less likely to get this degenerative disease that affects the nerve cells in the retina. Over three thousand men and woman between the ages of forty five and seventy four were involved in the study in which the researchers examined the macula of the eye. Macular degeneration can lead to loss of central vision (but not peripheral vision), particularly in those over the age of sixty-five.


Moderate wine has been previously reported to be beneficial in reducing the incidence of heart disease, and it is generally believed it is the antioxidants contained in wine that may be providing the protective effects. Wine contains a wide range of complex compounds called polyphenols that have been shown to have antioxidant properties. It is not known whether the mechanism for the protective effects of red wine against AMD involves the antioxidant properties of red wine or not.

The conclusion that wine consumption can lead to reduced AMD is given with some caution. The authors admit that a diet recall method that they used to determine the wine consumption of those in the survey may not be totally accurate. Like many preliminary studies, the relationship between diet, in this case wine consumption, and the disease (AMD) has been shown mathematically. However, until a mechanism can be shown, the results can only be considered as "interesting and promising.

Many studies have been reported in which diet recall is used as a method of determining whether particular components of the diet have influenced the incidence of a particular disease. A question as simple as " what did you eat yesterday " often does not give a true picture of what or how much was actually eaten. Part of this error is the fault of the investigator and part is the fault of the subjects in the study. Misunderstandings concerning even the simplest foods are possible. Differences arise because what was served was not necessarily eaten. Added to this is the fact that people very often under report how much they ate. Unless the study was designed to look for a relation between a particular food and a particular disease, results are often found by serendipity, which is not the best way to do science.

Red wine is an integral part of the Mediterranean diet that has been in the news a lot. Like other parts of the diet that have been found to be beneficial to health, it is the long term consumption of red wine in moderate amounts that is recommended.


Moderate Wine Consumption Is Associated with Decreased Odds of Developing Age-Related Macular Degeneration in NHANES-1 Thomas O Obisesan, MD, MPH, Robert Hirsch, PhD, Omofolasade Kosoko, MD, MSPH, Letitia Carlson, MD, MPH, and Marian Parrot, MD, MPH.

Journal of the American Geriatrics Society vol 46. Pgs1-7 1998

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