Eyesight: Drink enjoyed by billions could be linked to ‘leading’ cause of blindness

Cause of Glaucoma explained

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Eye care company, Vision Direct, suggests “overconsumption” of a certain hot drink could cause glaucoma. This is a condition where the optic nerve, which connects the eye to the brain, becomes damaged. If not diagnosed and treated early it could ultimately lead to blindness.

The drink in question is coffee – due to the amount of caffeine it contains.

Vision Direct says: ”Consistently going above the recommended amount could impact your health and vision, as it puts you in higher risk of developing chronic conditions such as glaucoma.”

It explains: “Caffeinated drinks are known to increase blood pressure, as well as pressure in your eyes.

“Consistently high levels of eye pressure are known to cause glaucoma, so there could easily be a link between your coffee habit and one of the world’s leading causes of blindness.”

More specifically, a study carried out by Harvard Medical School in 2012 concluded there was a link between drinking three or more cups of coffee and the risk of developing exfoliation glaucoma.

“This happens when a build-up of fluid in the eyes turns up the pressure on the optic nerves,” Vision Direct says.

“While this study could show a link, it doesn’t mean that if you drink lots of coffee you’ll definitely develop glaucoma.

“For example, many participants of the study had a family history of glaucoma, which has been proven to be a key factor in developing the condition.

“It’s all about how your body handles caffeine – so it’s far from a one size fits all approach.

“These results are also based on regular overconsumption: more about consistently having three or more cups of coffee every day, rather than drinking an extra cup on a busy Monday.”

On the other hand, Vision Direct says “moderate” coffee consumption is linked to lower risks of diabetes, liver disease, dementia and even some types of cancer.

It adds: “Raw coffee beans contain chlorogenic acid (CGA), an antioxidant that helps to reduce blood pressure and improve circulation.

“CGA can help to protect the body from a condition called hypoxia, caused by a lack of oxygen.
“Your retina is particularly vulnerable to hypoxia, so drinking coffee could help prevent any damage to your eyes and vision.

“Tests using CGA in its purest form have shown that it can prevent deterioration of the retina, but there is yet to be solid proof that drinking coffee can help with this.”

It concludes: “Overall, it still isn’t completely clear how coffee affects eyesight and why it seems to have different effects to other caffeinated drinks such as tea and energy drinks.

“As with everything, it’s a good idea to enjoy coffee in moderation and try to keep on the lower side of the recommended daily caffeine allowance of 400mg.”

Glaucoma is most common in adults in their 70s and 80s.

The NHS says: “It tends to develop slowly over many years and affects the edges of your vision (peripheral vision) first.

“For this reason, many people do not realise they have glaucoma, and it’s often only picked up during a routine eye test.

“If you do notice any symptoms, they might include blurred vision, or seeing rainbow-coloured circles around bright lights.”

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