Health: Drinking four cups of coffee a day may increase your risk of developing vision-threatening glaucoma

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Step away from the latte! Drinking four cups of coffee a day may UPPER your risk of developing face-threatening glaucoma, study warns

  • In glaucoma, the optic nerve or retina is damaged, often due to increased eye pressure
  • Experts from Mount Sinai Hospital studied the diet and health of 120,000 adults
  • This data and associated DNA samples were collected through the UK Biobank
  • For most subjects, caffeine intake was not linked to higher intraocular pressure
  • But caffeine did have an effect in people with a genetic predisposition to glaucoma
  • In these people, four cups of coffee a day raised eye pressure by 0.35 mmHg

Four cups of coffee a day can nearly quadruple the risk of developing vision-threatening glaucoma in people with a genetic predisposition to higher eye pressure.

Researchers led by Mount Sinai Hospital in New York City studied nutritional, health and genetic data in more than 120,000 adults, ages 39-73.

The findings, the team said, suggest that individuals with a strong family history of glaucoma would be best to reduce their daily caffeine intake.

Glaucoma is a group of eye diseases in which the optic nerve or retina is damaged, usually as a result of a build-up of ‘intraocular’ pressure in the eye.

In the UK, glaucoma is estimated to account for 10 percent of all blindness records, according to the National Institute for Health Care Excellence.

Four cups of coffee a day (pictured) may nearly quadruple risk of developing vision-threatening glaucoma in people genetically predisposed to higher eye pressure

Four cups of coffee a day (pictured) may nearly quadruple risk of developing vision-threatening glaucoma in people genetically predisposed to higher eye pressure

“We have published previous work suggesting that high caffeine intake increased the risk of high-tension open-angle glaucoma in people with a family history of disease,” said author of the paper and ophthalmologist Louis Pasquale of Mount Sinai.

“In this study, we show that an adverse relationship between high caffeine intake and glaucoma was only apparent in those with the highest genetic risk score for elevated eye pressure.”

In their study, Professor Pasquale and colleagues analyzed health data and DNA samples from more than 120,000 participants, ages 39-73.

The data for the study was collected by the UK Biobank, a large-scale database containing detailed genetic and health information on half a million participants.

Each participant was repeatedly questioned about their diet — focusing on how much caffeinated drinks they drank and how much caffeinated foods they consumed on a daily basis.

They were also asked about their vision — including whether they had glaucoma or whether they had a family history of the condition — and three years after the study, each subject underwent an eye exam including intraocular pressure checks.

The team first looked for relationships between caffeine intake, intraocular pressure and self-reported glaucoma before assessing whether the genetic data altered these relationships.

Glaucoma is a group of eye diseases in which the optic nerve or retina is damaged, usually as a result of a build-up of 'intraocular' pressure in the eye.  In the UK, glaucoma is estimated to account for 10 percent of all blindness recordsregistratie

Glaucoma is a group of eye diseases in which the optic nerve or retina is damaged, usually as a result of a build-up of ‘intraocular’ pressure in the eye. In the UK, glaucoma is estimated to account for 10 percent of all blindness recordsregistratie

The researchers found that high caffeine intake was generally not associated with an increased risk of intraocular pressure.

The exception were those with the strongest genetic predisposition to elevated IOP — that is, those in the 75th percentile. For these subjects, greater caffeine consumption was associated with higher intraocular pressure and prevalence of glaucoma.

Specifically, those who consumed the most caffeine daily — more than 480 milligrams, which is about four cups of coffee — had intraocular pressure 0.35 mmHg higher than their peers.

And those with the highest genetic risk who consumed more than 321 mg of caffeine (about three cups of coffee) daily had 3.9 times higher glaucoma rates than their peers who had minimal caffeine or had the lowest genetic risk.

“Glaucoma patients often ask if they can help protect their vision through lifestyle changes, but this has been a relatively underexposed area until now,” says the article’s author and ophthalmologist Anthony Khawaja of University College London.

“This study suggested that those at the highest genetic risk for glaucoma may benefit from moderating their caffeine intake.”

“It should be noted that the association between caffeine and glaucoma risk was only seen with a large amount of caffeine and in those with the highest genetic risk.”

‘The UK Biobank study helps us learn more than ever about how our genes influence our risk of glaucoma and the role our behavior and our environment can play. We look forward to further expanding our knowledge in this area.’

The study’s full findings were published in the journal Ophthalmology.

WHAT IS GLAUCOMA?

Glaucoma is a condition that can affect vision, usually due to pressure buildup in the eye.

It often affects both eyes, usually to varying degrees. One eye can develop glaucoma more quickly than the other.

The eyeball contains a fluid called aqueous humor, which is constantly produced by the eye, draining excess fluid through tubes.

Glaucoma develops when the fluid cannot drain properly and the pressure builds up, known as intraocular pressure.

This can damage the optic nerve (which connects the eye to the brain) and the nerve fibers of the retina (the light-sensitive nerve tissue that lines the back of the eye).

In England and Wales, it is estimated that more than 500,000 people have glaucoma, but many more people may not know they have the condition. There are 60 million patients worldwide.

Glaucoma can be treated with eye drops, laser treatment, or surgery. But early diagnosis is important because any damage to the eyes cannot be reversed. Treatment is aimed at managing the condition and minimizing future damage.

If left untreated, glaucoma can cause visual impairment. But if diagnosed and treated early enough, further damage to vision can be prevented.

Source: NHS Choices

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