Alcohol intake and the risk of age-related cataracts: a meta-analysis of prospective cohort studies

PLoS One. 2014 Sep 19;9(9):e107820. doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0107820. eCollection 2014.


Purpose: Epidemiologic studies assessing the relationship between alcohol consumption and the risk of age-related cataracts (ARCs) led to inconsistent results. This meta-analysis was performed to fill this gap.

Methods: Eligible studies were identified via computer searches and reviewing the reference lists of these obtained articles. Pooled estimates of the relative risks (RR) and the corresponding 95% confidence Intervals (CI) were calculated using random effects models.

Results: Seven prospective cohort studies involving a total of 119,706 participants were ultimately included in this meta-analysis. Pooled results showed that there is no substantial overall increased risk of ARC due to heavy alcohol consumption. The estimated RRs comparing heavy drinkers versus non-drinkers were 1.25 (95% CI: 1.00, 1.56) for cataract sugery, 1.06 (95% CI: 0.63, 1.81) for cortical cataracts, 1.26 (95% CI: 0.93, 1.73) for nuclear cataracts, and 0.91 (95% CI: 0.32, 2.61) for posterior subcapsular cataracts (PSCs), respectively. No significant associations between moderate alcohol consumption and cataracts were observed. The pooled RRs comparing moderate drinkers versus non-drinkers were 0.90 (95% CI: 0.64, 1.26) for cataract surgery, 0.97 (95% CI: 0.75, 1.25) for cortical cataracts, 0.91 (95% CI: 0.76, 1.08) for nuclear cataracts, and 0.97 (95% CI: 0.49, 1.91) for PSCs, respectively.

Conclusions: This meta-analysis suggests that there is no substantial overall increased risk of ARC due to alcohol intake. Because of the limited number of studies, the findings from our study must be confirmed in future research via well-designed cohort or intervention studies.

Publication types

  • Meta-Analysis
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Age Factors
  • Aged
  • Aged, 80 and over
  • Alcohol Drinking / adverse effects*
  • Cataract / epidemiology
  • Cataract / etiology*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Risk Assessment
  • Risk Factors

Grant support

This research was supported by the National Natural Science Foundation of China (81371008). The funders had no role in study design, data collection and analysis, decision to publish, or preparation of the manuscript.