New study links caffeinated coffee to vision loss

October 4, 2012

A new study suggests caffeinated coffee drinkers should limit their intake to reduce their chances of developing vision loss or blindness. According to a scientific paper in Investigative Ophthalmology & Visual Science, heavy caffeinated coffee consumption is associated with an increased risk of developing exfoliation glaucoma, the leading cause of secondary glaucoma worldwide.

The study, The Relation between Caffeine and Coffee Consumption and Exfoliation Glaucoma or Glaucoma Suspect: A Prospective Study in Two Cohorts, is the first to examine the link between caffeinated coffee and exfoliation glaucoma in a U.S. –based population.

"Scandinavian populations have the highest frequencies of exfoliation syndrome and glaucoma," said author, Jae Hee Kang, ScD, of Channing Division of Network Medicine at Brigham and Women's Hospital in Boston, Mass. "Because Scandinavian populations also have the highest consumption of caffeinated coffee in the world, and our research group has previously found that greater caffeinated coffee intake was associated with increased risk of primary open-angle glaucoma, we conducted this study to evaluate whether the risk of exfoliation glaucoma or glaucoma suspect may be different by coffee consumption."

The study was composed of two cohorts: 78,977 women from the Nurses' Health Study (NHS) and 41,202 men from the Health Professionals Follow-up Study (HPFS) who were at least 40 years of age, did not have glaucoma and reported undergoing eye examinations from 1980 (for NHS participants) and 1986 (for HPFS participants) to 2008. The research team used questionnaires to obtain and validate the consumption of beverages containing caffeine and reviewed medical records to determine incident cases of exfoliation glaucoma, which contributes to elevated pressure sufficient enough to damage the optic nerve, or exfoliation glaucoma suspect that have milder or only suspect optic nerve damage.

A meta-analysis of the two cohorts showed that, compared to abstainers, participants who drank three cups or more of caffeinated coffee daily were at an increased risk of developing exfoliation glaucoma or glaucoma suspect. The researchers did not find associations with consumption of other caffeinated products, such as soda, tea, chocolate or decaffeinated coffee. The results also showed that women with a family history of glaucoma were at an .

Kang, along with his colleagues, report that this study represents a much needed effort to better understand the causes of exfoliation glaucoma, which are largely unknown.

"Because this is the first study to evaluate the association between caffeinated coffee and exfoliation glaucoma in a U.S. population, confirmation of these results in other populations would be needed to lend more credence to the possibility that caffeinated might be a modifiable risk factor for glaucoma," said Kang. "It may also lead to research into other dietary or lifestyle factors as risk factors.

Explore further: Outside temperatures, sun exposure and gender may trigger glaucoma

Related Stories

Recommended for you

A pocket-sized retina camera, no dilating required

March 20, 2017

It's the part of the eye exam everyone hates: the pupil-dilating eye drops. The drops work by opening the pupil and preventing the iris from constricting in response to light and are often used for routine examination and ...

Scientists deploy CRISPR to preserve photoreceptors in mice

March 14, 2017

Silencing a gene called Nrl in mice prevents the loss of cells from degenerative diseases of the retina, according to a new study. The findings could lead to novel therapies for preventing vision loss from human diseases ...

New help for that bane of middle-age: blurry close-up vision

February 28, 2017

Squinting while texting? Always losing your reading glasses? An eye implant that takes about 10 minutes to put in place is the newest in a list of surgical repairs for the blurry close-up vision that is a bane of middle age. ...

Vitamin B3 prevents glaucoma in laboratory mice

February 16, 2017

In mice genetically predisposed to glaucoma, vitamin B3 added to drinking water is effective at preventing the disease, a research team led by Jackson Laboratory Professor and Howard Hughes Medical Investigator Simon W.M. ...

GARP2 accelerates retinal degeneration in a mouse model

February 15, 2017

In the retina of the eye, rod and cone cells turn light into electrical signals, the first step toward human vision. University of Alabama at Birmingham researchers are studying rod cell proteins GARP1 and GARP2 to learn ...

1 comment

Adjust slider to filter visible comments by rank

Display comments: newest first

jshloram
not rated yet Oct 04, 2012
..."were at an increased risk of developing exfoliation glaucoma or glaucoma suspect."...

Numbers please! pretty much useless article without quantification

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.