Daily Caffeine Intake Linked to Glaucoma

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According to a recent study, daily caffeine intake triples the risk of glaucoma in those with a genetic predisposition to higher eye pressures.

Although caffeine is commonly present in a variety of food products such as chocolates and sodas, it’s most popularly consumed in the form of coffee or tea. On average, over 2 billion cups of coffee are consumed in the world daily. In the past, researchers have reported multiple benefits of daily caffeine intake; such as enhanced performance, reduced risk of heart failure, and much more. However, researchers are yet to establish a relationship between caffeine intake and glaucoma risk. Now, for the first time, a team of researchers at Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai had investigated this link.

Using data from the UK Biobank, researchers analyzed health records of more than 120,000 participants between 2006 till 2019, aged between 39 to 73 years. Researchers also took participants’ intraocular pressure (IOP) measurements and assessed their glaucoma status. They used 5 web-based questionnaires. These questionnaires asked about the participant’s intake of caffeine-containing foods and drinks, portion size, and the amount they had daily. Thus, providing researchers with an estimate of the participants’ caffeine intake. Furthermore, researchers also collected information on participants’ family history of glaucoma.

We previously published work suggesting that high caffeine intake increased the risk of high-tension open-angle glaucoma among people with a family history of the disease. In this study, we show that an adverse relation between high caffeine intake and glaucoma was evident only among those with the highest genetic risk score for elevated eye pressure

Dr Louis R. Pasquale, lead author

They published their findings in the journal Ophthalmology.

People with Increased Eye Pressure at Greater Risk

Glaucoma is the second-leading cause of blindness in the world. Damage to the eye’s optic nerve results in gradual vision loss. An increased IOP is the most common risk factor for the diseases.

Results of the study did not demonstrate a direct link between high caffeine intake and increased IOP or risk of glaucoma. However, in patients with a genetic predisposition to increased IP, a high caffeine intake tripled the risk of glaucoma. Specifically, in those who consumed more than 480mg of caffeine daily; which is approximately four cups of coffee.

This study suggested that those with the highest genetic risk for glaucoma may benefit from moderating their caffeine intake. 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

Dr Anthony Khawaja, study author


Kim, Jihye et al. “Intraocular Pressure, Glaucoma, and Dietary Caffeine Consumption: A Gene-Diet Interaction Study from the UK Biobank.” Ophthalmology vol. 128,6 (2021): 866-876. doi:10.1016/j.ophtha.2020.12.009

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