Coffee consumption can lead to a greater risk of developing exfloliation glaucoma, the primary cause of secondary glaucoma, all over the world.

A new study. published in Investigative Ophthalmology & Visual Science, suggests coffee drinkers may need to reconsider their coffee intake to decrease their probability of developing vision loss or blindness.

Author of this study, the first of its kind done within a U.S. population, Jae Hee Kang, ScD, of Channing Division of Network Medicine at Brigham and Women’s Hospital in Boston, Mass., explains:

“Scandinavian populations have the highest frequencies of exfoliation syndrome and glaucoma. 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 included two groups: 78,977 women from the Nurses’ Health Study (NHS) and 41,202 men from the Health Professionals’ Follow-up Study (HPFS), who were 40 years of age or older, did not have glaucoma, and underwent eye examinations from 1980 (for NHS) and 1986 (for HPFS) to 2008.

Researchers used surveys to acquire and verify the consumption of beverages that included caffeine and analyzed medical records to find incident cases of exfoliation glaucoma, which encourages elevated pressure enough to damage the optic nerve, or presumed exfoliation glaucoma that may have done slight damage to the optic nerve.

Findings of the meta-analysis showed that compared with people who abstain from caffeinated coffee, participants who drank three or more cups daily, were at an increased risk of developing glaucoma exfoliation or glaucoma suspect. Investigators did not find any correlations with consumption of other caffeinated products, such as, tea, soda, chocolate, or decaffeinated coffee. Outcomes also showed women with a family history of glaucoma had an elevated risk.

The researchers believe this study paves the way for required insight into a better understanding of what causes exfoliation glaucoma, which are greatly unknown at the moment.

Kang concludes:

“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. It may also lead to research into other dietary or lifestyle factors as risk factors.”

Written by Kelly Fitzgerald