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    Wishing You a Moderate New Year

    Dr. McDonnell

    With the New Year upon us, I find myself looking forward to a festive holiday complete with copious adult beverages, but then I read a report in one of our medical journals that left me shaken (if not stirred).

    Like all guys, I came to admire James Bond while a boy and aspired to be like him as a man.  Most women I know found him extremely attractive (the Sean Connery Bond more so than the Roger Moore version). He was fun loving, self-confident, lucky, smart, and successful with the opposite sex, all while sipping one martini after another.

    But it turns out this is all fantasy.

    According to the British Medical Journal1, a review of the 007 novels reveals that he consumed 92 units of alcohol weekly (2 units being equivalent to a 6-oz glass of wine or pint of beer), with a daily consumption as high as 50 units. About 1 day out of 6 did Bond not imbibe, because he was being held prisoner and presumably his captors were not thoughtful hosts.

    According to the authors of this study, a man this bibulous would not be the highly functioning secret agent portrayed in the movies. Rather than being a deadly shot, he would likely have alcohol-induced cerebellar damage that would lead to tremors. Instead of being athletic and able to battle it out with the evildoers, he would probably be jaundiced from cirrhosis and in poor physical shape. And here’s some sobering news: rather than being a lady-killer, there is a good chance Bond would be impotent!

    I suppose the good news is that his eyes would still likely be in good shape, as the literature suggests our eyes are relatively impervious to the effects of martinis.

    The majority of studies show either a very weak or undetectable relationship between alcohol consumption and the common eye diseases of adults. Prospective cohort studies2 do not show an association with cataract, there may be a very weak increased risk of age-related macular degeneration and there is little evidence of an association with glaucoma.

    Of course, we all learned about tobacco-alcohol amblyopia in our residencies, but this is fairly rare. In addition, corneal and external disease specialists are aware that severe alcoholics (the homeless gentlemen who come to inner-city emergency rooms) are immunocompromised and at an increased risk for having multiple pathogens contributing to their infectious keratitis.

    Regulating alcohol intake?

    Peter J. McDonnell, MD
    He is director of The Wilmer Eye Institute, The Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine, Baltimore, and chief medical editor of ...

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