Glaucoma is one of the leading causes of eye impairment worldwide. Around 80 million people in 2020 had developed this condition. This number is expected to rise to 111 million worldwide by 2040. Glaucoma is essentially the increase in pressure within your eye that, if left unchecked, can lead to eye pain, headaches, and in some cases, blindness.
How it develops
The exact mechanism of how Glaucoma happens may very well be complex and boring for you, so I’ll simplify it. Your eyeballs are not strong solid structures but are more like water balloons. The eyeballs have a fluid inside them that keeps them in shape and helps to provide nutrients. Glaucoma develops when either production is increased, or drainage is compromised. This pressure leads to pain, and if the intensity is high enough to compress the retina, it can lead to blindness.
The Glaucoma-Caffeine Link
Where does caffeine play a factor? Well, it turns out that in a recent study done at Icahn School of Medicine Mount Sinai, researchers found a link between environmental factors and genetics in which some individuals are more prone to a condition called Ocular Hypertension—in layman terms, higher eyeball pressure.
Dietary questionnaires were given to the participants, and their daily caffeine intake was analyzed against their eye pressure. The results showed that while caffeine intake did not increase the risk of Glaucoma overall, those with a genetic predisposition to Ocular Hypertension demonstrated on average increased readings than non-caffeine drinkers. Those who roughly had 3 cups of coffee daily were at a greater chance of developing Glaucoma.
As we all know, caffeine is the most famous stimulant worldwide, with people consuming it day in and days out, such as coffee, teas, energy drinks, and what-not.
In the study above, caffeine showed the chance of increased eye pressure for people who were already at risk for eye hypertension.
The association between those who drank high amounts of caffeine and those with a genetic predisposition and eye hypertension is new to the medical field and will undergo further analysis in the coming years. Meanwhile, you don’t need to worry so much and can safely enjoy your daily one to two cups of coffee. However, if you have Glaucoma or have a family history of it, it would be wise to reduce your caffeine consumption just to be on the safe side.