Can drinking have a lasting effect on the cornea? That’s what a team of Indian researchers asked with a publication recently published in the British Journal of Ophthalmology after noting bilateral corneal edema following acute alcohol intake. The study looked at the endothelial parameters of 161 alcohol dependence syndrome (ADS) patients, and 161 age-matched control group patients. These endothelial parameters were also examined in the ADS group before and after the patients committed to alcohol abstinence.

The researchers uncovered a significant difference between the ADS group and the control in both central corneal thickness (CCT) and endothelial cell density (CD). Compared to healthy controls, the ADS group had a higher mean CCT (529µm vs. 510µm) and a lower cell count per square millimeter (2571 vs. 2752). Additionally, the team noted a significant difference in both measures for the alcohol dependent group once they initiated abstinence from alcohol.

The ADS group was analyzed for other conditions associated with drinking as well, such as levels of liver enzymes, mean corpuscular volume and stages of fatty liver on corneal endothelium. The study notes a correlation between increased stages of fatty liver and corneal endothelial alteration in ADS patients.

Sati A, Moulick P, Shankar S. Corneal endotheial alterations in alcohol dependence syndrome. Bri J Ophthalmol. September 24, 2018 [Epub ahead of print].