If You Drink This Much Coffee a Day, It Could Increase Your Risk of Going Blind

Drinking this much caffeine each day could put your eyes at risk, a new study shows.

As much as you may love the jolt of energy coffee gives you on a groggy morning, like most aspects of life, you can have too much of a good thing. It's well documented that there are a handful of risks associated with consuming a lot of caffeine. Not only can too much contribute to your anxiety levels or sleepless nights, but it can also cause digestive issues, high blood pressure, and even kidney problems. And now, there's another risk to add to the list. A recent study found that drinking a certain amount of coffee a day can put you at an increased risk of vision loss. To see if you fall into this category, read on.

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Drinking three to four cups of coffee daily can increase your risk of glaucoma.

Senior man having his morning coffee on a balcony and day dreaming. Copy space.
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A study out of the Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai, published in the June 2021 issue of the medical journal Opthalmology, found a link between coffee intake and glaucoma risk. Elevated intraocular pressure (IOP), pressure inside the eye, is a key risk factor for glaucoma, and glaucoma is the leading cause of blindness in the U.S., according to Mount Sinai. The study found that people with a high genetic predisposition for IOP who drank roughly three cups of coffee a day were 3.9 times more likely to develop glaucoma.

Additionally, a 2012 study on more then 120,000 men and women over the age of 40, who did not have glaucoma, found a similar link. The findings, published in the journal Investigative Ophthalmology and Visual Science, showed that drinking three or more cups of a coffee per day—compared to abstaining from the beverage—led to an increased risk of a specific type of glaucoma called exfoliation glaucoma. Though "associations were stronger among women with a family history of glaucoma," the researchers did not find similar links with other caffeinated products, like soda, tea, or chocolate.

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People with a family history of glaucoma should consume less coffee, experts say.

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In a statement that accompanied the study, the researchers noted that their findings suggest people with a strong family history of glaucoma should especially reduce their caffeine intake.

"This study suggested that those with the highest genetic risk for glaucoma may benefit from moderating their caffeine intake," study co-author Anthony Khawaja, MD, PhD, associate professor of ophthalmology at University College London's Institute of Ophthalmology, said in a statement. "It should be noted that the link between caffeine and glaucoma risk was only seen with a large amount of caffeine and in those with the highest genetic risk."

Your age, other existing health conditions, and eyesight are also risk factors of glaucoma.

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While having high IOP is one of the biggest risk factors for glaucoma, there are other notable contributors as well. According to the Mayo Clinic, people over 60 are more at risk of glaucoma. Additionally, certain medical conditions can be a risk factor for the disease, including diabetes, heart disease, high blood pressure, and sickle cell anemia. Other eye-related issues, such as being extremely nearsighted or farsighted or having an eye injury or surgery, also add to your risk. Taking corticosteroid medications, especially eyedrops, for an extended period of time bumps up your risk as well.

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Getting your eyes examined frequently can help prevent vision loss in the long run.

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Detecting glaucoma early is essential in preventing vision loss or at least slowing its progress, notes the Mayo Clinic. The American Academy of Ophthalmology recommends that you should get your eyes checked every two to four years if you're 40 to 54 years old. Once you're 55 to 65, you should get an exam every one to three years, and if you're over 65, your eyes should be checked every one to two years. However, if you have a family history of glaucoma, you should get more regular exams.

According to the Mayo Clinic, you can also reduce your risk of glaucoma by exercising, taking prescribed eye drops, and wearing eye protection when playing sports or working with tools.

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Allie Hogan
Allie Hogan is a Brooklyn based writer currently working on her first novel. Read more
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