A new study says that frequent caffeine intake may triple your risk of glaucoma if you are genetically predisposed to higher eye pressure. Read on to know more.

Glaucoma is a leading cause of blindness worldwide. This is an irreversible eye disease that progresses to vision loss. Though there may be many risk factors, genetics play a big role in a person getting this disease. Now, if a disease is hereditary or if you are genetically predisposed to a particular disease, there is very little you can do about it. But research at the Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai has demonstrated a dietary-genetic interaction in glaucoma. According to the researchers of this study, consuming large amounts of caffeine daily may increase the risk of glaucoma by more than three-fold, if you have a genetic predisposition to higher eye pressure. Hence, it may be prudent for patients with a strong family history of glaucoma to cut down on caffeine intake. This was recently published in Ophthalmology.

High caffeine intake and its link to intraocular pressure

During the course of the study, researchers looked at the impact of caffeine intake on glaucoma, and intraocular pressure (IOP), which is the pressure inside the eye. A higher IOP is a risk factor for glaucoma. Otherwise, glaucoma patients experience hardly any symptoms until the disease progresses to vision loss. Earlier research suggest that high caffeine intake increased the risk of the high-tension open angle glaucoma among people with a family history of disease. But this study shows an adverse relation between high caffeine intake and glaucoma only among those with the highest genetic risk score for elevated eye pressure.

Even 4 cups of coffee is bad for people at risk

After analysing records of more than 120,000 participants, 39 to 73 years old, between 2006 and 2010, researchers came to the conclusion that high caffeine intake was not associated with increased risk for higher IOP or glaucoma as such. But for people with the strongest genetic predisposition to elevated IOP, greater caffeine intake was associated with higher IOP and higher glaucoma prevalence. They saw that those who consumed more than 480 milligrams of caffeine daily, which is around four cups of coffee, had a 0.35 mmHg higher IOP. Those in the highest genetic risk score category who consumed more than 321 milligrams of daily caffeine, around three cups of coffee, had a 3.9-fold higher glaucoma prevalence when compared to those who drink no or minimal caffeine.

Lifestyle change can prevent vision loss

Blindness caused by glaucoma is irreversible. Patients know and fear this. They often ask their doctors if lifestyle changes can help them preserve their vision. There was no conclusive evidence till now that lifestyle change can help you avoid vision loss induced by glaucoma. But this study changes this. Just by cutting down on caffeine consumption, you can preserve your vision.

This post first appeared on The Health Site

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