Patients with diabetes who like to have a drink or two were recently given a bit of good news when a study out of Boston University found that moderate drinkers with diabetes were in better health than their heavy- and non-drinking peers. As it turns out, though, the alcohol that's helping to keep these individuals in good health may be contributing to problems with their vision.
A new study published in Diabetic Medicine reveals that among patients with type 2 diabetes, alcohol consumption was associated with an increased risk of deterioration of visual acuity.
Patients with type 2 diabetes are at increased risk to develop complications like cardiovascular disease, renal disease, and retinopathy. Previous studies have suggested that moderate alcohol consumption could reduce the risk of cardiovascular disease and other complications among type 2 diabetes patients.
Researchers led by Joline WJ Beulens, PhD, of the University Medical Center Utrecht, studied over 1,200 type 2 diabetes patients over five and half years and reviewed current and past consumption of wine, spirits, and beer. Moderate alcohol consumption was defined as one to 14 drinks a week and heavy alcohol consumption was defined as more than 14 drinks a week.
Findings reveal that alcohol consumption was associated with a more than 50% increased risk of deterioration of visual acuity over that time but was not related to typical diabetes related eye disease. Deterioration was defined by a decrease of two lines in best vision in either eye.
“Our study is the first to show this association,” said Dr. Beulens. “Lifestyle factors, including alcohol consumption, may alter the risk of visual loss in individuals with diabetes. This is a first observational study and our findings should be replicated.”