THE RETINA AND VISION
The retina is a thin, sensitive layer of tissue at the back of the eye that allows us to differentiate colors, shapes, and other visual information. The retina also happens have a high metabolism for oxygen and other nutrients delivered by the blood. Without enough oxygen, the retina may become damaged, which could lead to blindness resulting from age-related macular degeneration (AMD or ARMD), diabetic retinopathy, or glaucoma.
HOW IS COFFEE RELATED TO EYE HEALTH?
Coffee contains a compound called chlorogenic acid (CGA), which in laboratory tests has been proven to prevent age-related retinal damage in mice, preserving vision in the mice studied. The chlorogenic acid appears to reduce damage to cells of the retina. Although more research is needed to fully understand the positive link between the chlorogenic acid in coffee and its protective benefits for eye health, it appears that CGA protects against hypoxia, or oxygen deprivation. Further studies are needed to determine exactly how the CGA acts upon the eyes, but this breakthrough may potentially lead to the development of either specially designed coffees designed to support eye health or possibly eye drops designed to deliver antioxidants directly to the eyes.
ARE THERE OTHER BENEFITS OF DRINKING COFFEE?
In addition to having direct positive benefits for vision and eye health, caffeine from coffee has also been associated with reduced blood pressure, reduced risk of developing type 2 diabetes, and improved insulin sensitivity in those who already have type 2 diabetes. These are beneficial for the eyes as well, since improved blood pressure and well-regulated blood glucose in diabetics are also associated with preservation of eye health. A few additional benefits associated with drinking coffee include reduced risk of death from liver cirrhosis, weight control, and possible protection for men against prostate cancer.
A WORD OF CAUTION ABOUT DRINKING TOO MUCH COFFEE
Before you increase your coffee intake or start chugging coffee after a lifetime as a non-coffee drinker, check with your doctor. Suddenly increasing your caffeine intake may not be the best plan of action, as results from studies on the link between coffee and eye health are still under review and more research is needed to better understand the connection. In addition, those who drink more than four cups of coffee per day are at greater risk for heart palpitations and cardiovascular stress, anxiety, and urinary incontinence.
To learn more about the link between diet and eye health, or to schedule an eye examination, call Silverstein Eye Centers today at (816) 358-3600 for our Independence/Kansas City location. We look forward to seeing you soon.