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Family History of Glaucoma? Watch Your Caffeine Intake

Intraocular pressure (IOP) is the fluid pressure inside the eye. Vision loss from glaucoma occurs when IOP is too high and damages the optic nerve.  A new study has found that high caffeine consumption may increase the risk of glaucoma in people genetically predisposed to elevated IOP.

Participants in the study included 121,374 with an average age of 56 who took part in the UK Biobank Study. Participants answered questionnaires regarding consumption of caffeine beverages and foods containing caffeine, and their vision and family history of glaucoma. They also provided DNA samples. In addition, ophthalmic data was collected at vision assessment centers.

Participants who were genetically predisposed to elevated IOP and consumed the highest amounts of caffeine (more than 480 milligrams daily) had a 0.35 mmHG higher IOP and higher glaucoma prevalence compared to those who consumed the least caffeine. Participants genetically predisposed to elevated IOP who consumed more than 321 milligrams of caffeine daily had a 3.9-fold higher glaucoma prevalence compared to those who consumed little to no caffeine and were not genetically predisposed to elevated IOP.

The study was conducted by researchers from the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health. It was published online ahead of print on December 14, 2020 in the journal Ophthalmology.

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