The Protective Powers of Coffee

Protective Powers of Coffee

A study from Cornell University found that one of your favorite morning routines — drinking a cup of coffee — may prevent eyesight deterioration and even blindness.

According to the research, one of coffee’s main ingredients, an antioxidant called chlorogenic acid, may protect against retinal degeneration from glaucoma, aging or diabetes that can cause blindness.

The study compared two groups of mice eyes treated with nitric oxide (which causes the retina to degenerate). One group of mice eyes were pretreated with chlorogenic acid, and the other was not. The group pretreated with chlorogenic acid did not develop retinal damage.

It helps to understand a little bit about how the eye works. The retina is a thin layer of tissue on the back wall of the eye with millions of cells that receive and organize visual information. This tissue demands higher levels of oxygen than any other tissues, including the brain, and is prone to diseases (like age-related macular degeneration, diabetic retinopathy, and glaucoma) caused by oxidative stress. Past studies have suggested that chlorogenic acid may prevent the deprivation of oxygen and overall degeneration in certain parts of the body.

Dr. Robert Bittel, a spokesperson from the American Optometric Association and a regular coffee-drinker, believes the Cornell study deserves follow-up research.

“As with any study that cites commonly used food items as therapeutic in some way, caution has to be taken so that the public understands the negative as well as the positive potential implications of drinking coffee,” Bittel said.

If future studies find that chlorogenic acid does, in fact, prevent retinal damage, companies could produce a synthetic compound and deliver it with eye drops.

Applications in Dry Eye Treatment

Several years ago, researchers at the University of Tokyo’s School of Medicine found that caffeine can increase tear production and may be helpful for people who suffer from dry eye syndrome. Participants in the Tokyo study produced more tears after consuming caffeine than after taking a placebo.

According to the American Academy of Ophthalmology, 5 percent of Americans have dry eye syndrome, meaning they are not able to produce enough tears to keep their eyes moist and maintain clear vision.

If research continues to support this trend, caffeinated products, including coffee, could be used in dry eye treatment.

For more information on eye health-friendly foods, please contact the Laser Eye Center at 800-80-LASER or via email.

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