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New Study Says Heavy Coffee Drinking May Lead to Glaucoma

A new study suggests that heavy caffeinated coffee consumption may lead to an increased incidence of vision loss due to glaucoma.

According to a scientific paper recently published 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 authors of the study say it is the first to examine the link between caffeinated coffee and exfoliation glaucoma in a United States-based population.

closeup of the human eye“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 involved 78,977 women and 41,202 men, age 40 or older, who did not have symptoms of glaucoma beginning in 1980 (women) and 1986 (men). It used eye examination data up to 2008 and subsequent questionnaires about coffee consumption during that period, determining that participants who drank three cups or more of caffeinated coffee daily were at an increased risk of developing exfoliation glaucoma or glaucoma suspect.

“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 coffee might be a modifiable risk factor for glaucoma,” Kang wrote. “It may also lead to research into other dietary or lifestyle factors as risk factors.

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