Pour yourself a hot cup of glaucoma prevention

Remember last month when I told you how exercise could lower your risk of glaucoma — a disease that even the Glaucoma Research Foundation says can’t be prevented? (To access that article, simply visit my archives at www.DrPescatore.com and type “glaucoma” into the search bar.)

Well it may be time for them to rethink their official stance on this issue. Because new research has just uncovered yet another way to lower your risk of this common eye disease and leading cause of blindness. And I’m not exaggerating when I say that this one really couldn’t get any easier…

This study drew from data collected in the 2005-2006 National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey (NHANES) — which featured interviews, physical exams, and blood samples from roughly 10,000 people.

More than 1,600 of these subjects also received comprehensive eye tests — five percent of whom were found to have developed glaucoma.

Researchers examined their beverage intake — and more specifically, their consumption of caffeinated and decaf drinks, including soda and iced tea — over the previous year. (Earlier studies have suggested that caffeine consumption may reduce pressure in the eyes — a key feature of glaucoma.)

Analysis showed that drinking hot tea daily was linked with a whopping 74 percent reduction in glaucoma risk — even after accounting for factors like diabetes and smoking status. But the same could not be said for coffee, whether it was caffeinated or decaf. Or for decaf tea, iced tea, or soda.

Why? Well, that’s not too clear yet. Admittedly, there are a lot of details missing from this conclusion. Like serving size, the type of tea, or the amount of time it was steeped — all of which make a pretty big difference.

It’s also true that this study doesn’t demonstrate cause and effect. It simply points to an association. Albeit a striking one that’s nearly impossible to dismiss as pure coincidence.

Tea is already well established as an inflammation-reducing antioxidant powerhouse. It’s proven to lower your risk of heart disease, cancer, diabetes, and dementia. It makes sense that it might also slash your risk of glaucoma — particularly considering this eye disease has a neurodegenerative component.

Either way, who doesn’t love a hot cup of tea in the middle of the winter? When it’s this cold out, reduced risk of irreversible blindness really is just the icing on the proverbial cake.