Is Coffee Bad for your Eyes?

Most of us credit our morning cup of coffee for the great job it does at helping us wake-up, open our eyes, and get ready to see what’s ahead.  I swear by my morning coffee (with its flavor appropriately adjusted by a large dose of flavored cream that is).

But, could my morning caffeine fix actually be harming my vision long term?

The answer, sadly, is: Maybe!

A study that was conducted a few years ago found that there was a correlation between caffeinated coffee consumption and one type of glaucoma in the United States.  In fact, the results were dramatic enough to suggest that if one consumed enough caffeinated coffee, a special type of glaucoma called exfoliation glaucoma could be triggered.  Glaucoma, generally, is a disease that elevates your eye pressure and in turn, causes damage (sometimes severe and irreversible damage) to your optic nerve.

Though this type of exfoliation glaucoma is fairly rare (the most common type of glaucoma is called open-angle glaucoma), exfoliation glaucoma follows a condition called exfoliation syndrome, where a patient develops deposits of white flaky, almost dandruff like, deposits in the tissues of the eyes.

The study was conducted by a Dr. Kang of Brigham and Women’s Hospital in Boston who also made another correlation:  Scandinavian populations are most likely to suffer from exfoliation syndrome and they also, globally, consume the most caffeinated coffee.

The study included more than 100,000 participants — all over the age of 40 and none who were already suffering from glaucoma.

According to the study, compared to participants who abstained from caffeine, those who consumed at least three cups of regular coffee a day exhibited a higher risk of developing exfoliation glaucoma or its signs and symptoms.  Bad news for heavy coffee drinkers.

But, there is good news for heavy consumers of other caffeinated beverages though.  Apparently the study found no connection with consumption of teas or other caffeinated sodas or beverages.  Cola fans of the world can rest easy tonight.

Though this study was large, scientists admit that they don’t have it all figured out quite yet.  In fact, this type of exfoliation glaucoma is so rare there is still a need for more research to help full understand this disease.  All we know is, perhaps for the sake of your vision, consider making that third cup decaf or have a nice glass of tea instead.

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