When we need a quick boost of energy, most of us reach for a caffeinated drink like coffee or tea. Although it does the trick for making us feel more alert during the day, they can come with some not-so-great side effects — beyond just jittery feelings. New research warns that people with a family history of elevated eye pressure and glaucoma could be three times more likely to develop the disease due to excessive daily caffeine consumption.
A recent study published in Ophthalmology looked at whether high caffeine intake was linked to a greater risk of developing glaucoma. Symptoms of this eye condition include nausea, blurry vision, and headaches. Researchers focused on intraocular pressure (IOP), which is essentially eye pressure. A heightened IOP is considered a significant risk factor for glaucoma. Participants included 121 ,374 adults (ages 39 to 73 years), some of which had a family history of this eye condition. Responses from questionnaires asking the participants about their caffeine consumption and vision were collected through a database called UK Biobank data.
Luckily, the study authors found that regular caffeine consumption isn’t associated with a higher risk of IOP or glaucoma overall. However, they noted that participants with a family history of this eye condition were more at risk to develop it. Those who consumed 321 mg. of caffeine daily, which is roughly three cups of coffee, were over three times more likely to develop IOP and glaucoma. They claimed that the coffee’s high caffeine content was a main factor in elevated participants’ eye pressure over time.
“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, said in a statement.
The key to great health is considering and re-adjusting our dietary habits when needed. Thanks why being mindful of how your caffeine intake affects health conditions (both genetic and non-genetic) is a great way to feel your healthiest at all times.
How much caffeine should you have in a day?
The FDA says 400 mg. a day (the equivalent to four or five cups of coffee) is a safe amount for most healthy adults. But, because everyone has their own caffeine tolerance, they recommend speaking with your doctor to find the right intake for your body. This will help you avoid health troubles like glaucoma and teeth grinding.
Thankfully, keeping our caffeine intake in check doesn’t mean we have to go about our days feeling groggy or sluggish. Limiting the amount of coffee you drink to two cups each day will still give you an energy boost. On top of keep you awake, those two cups can also reduce your liver cancer risk. A low-caffeinated sip like the coffee-hybrid known as cascara is another great option that won’t give you any jitters afterwards.
Plus, there are some caffeine-free sips that are just as tasty as their caffeinated counterparts! Replace your morning cup of Joe with chicory coffee, which is made using ground chicory root that’s been roasted and brewed. This nutty and earthy flavored alternative will perk you up while also helping to boost your gut health, balance blood sugar, and lose weight. If you like a warm drink before bed, tea varieties including rooibos and chrysanthemum are perfectly fine to enjoy as a nightcap for better sleep. Also, reaching for a glass of water instead of a diet soda is an effective caffeine swap to increase your energy, mood, and happiness.
It’s reassuring to know that limiting your daily caffeine intake doesn’t mean you have to miss out on feeling alert — or jeopardize your eye health.