Coffee or tea? Personal tastes aside, we may all benefit from adding a cup of hot tea to our daily routine. While coffee consumption has been linked in the past to an increased risk of glaucoma (due to an increase in intraocular pressure), a recent study has found that drinking hot tea every day may have the opposite effect and actually lower our risk of developing glaucoma.
According to the study published in the British Journal of Ophthalmology, researchers from Brown University, Rhode Island University, and the University of California aimed to examine the association between the consumption of various caffeinated/decaffeinated beverages and glaucoma. The results found that participants who drank hot tea daily had a 74% lower risk of having glaucoma than those who did not.
Although more research needs to be conducted (as there were certain constraints in the study such as the small number of participants with glaucoma and a lack of detailed information about the timeline of diagnosis) the study authors noted that tea’s basic health properties very much suggest it may be able to lower glaucoma risk. Namely, phytochemicals and flavonoids, which can be found in tea, have been shown to have properties associated with the prevention of cardiovascular disease, cancer, and diabetes. Given these attributes, it wouldn’t be so far-fetched to consider that the consumption of tea could have a protective metabolic effect.
Benefits of phytochemicals and flavonoids found in tea include:
- Anti-inflammatory (reduces inflammation or swelling)
- Anti-carcinogenic (inhibits or prevents the activity of a carcinogen or the development of cancer)
- Antioxidant (protects cells from free radicals that can cause damage)
- Neuroprotective (protects nerve cells against damage, degeneration, and/or impairment of function)
With that said, the study’s authors noted that further research was needed to fully establish the importance of their findings and whether or not hot tea consumption did indeed play a role in the prevention of glaucoma.
What is Glaucoma?
According to the National Eye Institute, glaucoma is a group of diseases that damage the eye’s optic nerve and can result in vision loss and blindness. Glaucoma often has no symptoms and there is no cure for it. Vision loss as a result of Glaucoma can occur in one or both eyes and cannot be restored. To detect the presence of Glaucoma, a comprehensive dilated eye exam would have to be performed. So be sure to keep up with annual eye exams and talk to your eye care professional about your eye health.
For more on Glaucoma, click here.