You may have heard before that drinking coffee is bad for you, mainly because of the caffeine that it contains. You may have even told your teenage kids they couldn’t drink coffee because it would stunt their growth, which is something most parents probably say. But recent studies show that drinking coffee can actually have benefits for your health, including protecting your eye health.
While coffee does contain caffeine, it actually contains a very small amount, but another compound found in raw coffee beans is called chlorogenic acid or CGA, which is an antioxidant that has many health benefits associated with it, such as reducing blood pressure and helping people to lose weight. One coffee bean contains between seven and nine percent of CGA, which may not sound like a lot, but that small amount actually has a big effect on your body health, including your eyes.
CGA and Your Eyes
Researchers from Cornell University have released a recent study that shows that CGA may be able to prevent retinal degeneration. The retina is located at the back of the eye and contains light-sensitive cells and nerve cells. These cells are what allow your eyes to receive and organize the information that you see, but they are susceptible to a condition called hypoxia.
Hypoxia causes parts of your body to become deprived of oxygen and can result in severe damage to those areas. When retinas are deprived of oxygen they become damaged, which can lead to various eye diseases and conditions such as diabetic retinopathy, macular degeneration, and glaucoma. All of these conditions can result in varying degrees of blindness.
Since CGA is beneficial for other areas of your health, scientists were interested to see what kind of effect it would have on preventing hypoxia and degeneration in the eyes. The study, which was published in the Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry, was performed on mice and the outcome shows that it is possible that CGA and coffee extract could prevent retinal degeneration.
When the retina becomes damaged it can lead to the development of macular degeneration, also called age-related macular degeneration. When macular degeneration has developed it can cause you to be unable to see objects in the same sharp, detailed way that you used to be able to see them. This can cause you to be unable to do activities like reading, recognizing people’s faces, driving, and seeing the world the way you once did.
Generally, it’s people who are over 60 that are most commonly affected by macular degeneration, though anyone can suffer from it at any age for various reasons, but especially if there has been trauma to the retina. Macular degeneration in its advanced stages can cause permanent visual impairment and blindness.
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If you have diabetes, there is a chance that you could suffer from diabetic retinopathy at some point. When too much sugar gets in the blood, damage can occur all through the body, which includes the eyes. Damage can be caused to the blood vessels in the retina which can lead to blood and other retinal fluids leaking out of the blood vessels, resulting in the retinal tissues becoming swollen and causing your vision to become cloudy. If this condition is not treated, it can progress leading to additional vision problems and eventually to complete loss of vision.
Symptoms of diabetic retinopathy include blurred vision, seeing spots in your vision field, you may have a dark or empty spot in the center of your vision, and you may have difficulty seeing at night. Usually these symptoms do not present themselves until diabetic retinopathy has progressed to more advanced stages. There are usually no noticeable symptoms in the early stages, which is why it is so important that people with diabetes receive regular comprehensive eye exams with dilation.
There are some treatments for diabetic retinopathy such as laser surgery to seal off any leaking blood vessels or to prevent other blood vessels from developing leaks, eye injections to reduce inflammation, and other more advanced surgeries may be needed.
Glaucoma is condition that causes damage to your optic nerve, which is connected to the retina and contains many tiny nerve fibers. The optic nerve’s job is to send signals from your retina to your brain where the images you see are interpreted.
Healthy eyes produce a little bit of fluid in the front part of your eye while an equal amount of fluid is released from your eye at the same time, which helps to maintain a healthy eye pressure. Glaucoma occurs when the fluid does not flow out of your eye the way it is supposed to. Pressure then begins to build up and causes damage to the optic nerve fibers.
There usually aren’t any early indications that you have glaucoma because it develops at a rather slow pace. However, early detection is key for receiving treatment to prevent further damage that could cause permanent vision loss. Treatment for glaucoma includes medicated eye drops, surgery, or sometimes both. This is another reason why you should have regular eye exams so that if you have glaucoma it can be detected as early as possible.
Saving Your Eyesight
There are 17 vitamins and minerals that promote healthy eyesight and can reduce your risk for developing these eye diseases. Taking care of your eye health, as well as your body health, can mean the difference between having great vision and not having vision at all. Do everything you can to maintain your vision, because once it’s gone, it’s gone.