Can Coffee Prevent Degenerative Eye Disease?

ysm coffeeCoffee is the world’s most popular beverage. The United States is the leading consumer of coffee, drinking 146 billion cups of coffee per year. This drink of choice is responsible for 75 percent of all caffeine consumed in U.S., which contributes to coffee’s stigma of being addictive (Source: Coffee Statistics).

Although excess coffee consumption has been linked to racing heartbeats, elevated blood pressures and cardiovascular risk, there is reason for java lovers to rejoice! One cup of coffee per day may be beneficial for your eye health. A cup of joe may help prevent deteriorating eyesight and even blindness from retinal degeneration due to aging, diabetes and glaucoma. Retinal function is essential to healthy eyesight. The retina contains light-sensitive cells that trigger nerve impulses that travel from the optic nerve to the brain where a visual image is created.

What is in coffee that protects the retina? Raw coffee contains 7 to 9 percent chlorogenic acid (CLA), a strong antioxidant that prevents retinal degeneration in mice. A study performed by Cornell University treated mice with nitric oxide, a compound that causes oxidative stress and free radicals. The nitric oxide caused retinal damage in all mice that were not pre-treated with CLA.

Although further research needs to be completed, the implications of this study are significant. Coffee is the world’s most popular drink, and it includes natural healing properties. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 14 million people over the age of 12 are visually impaired. Could coffee play a role in protecting our eyes from degenerative disease? Chang Y. Lee, professor of food science at Cornell and the study’s senior author stated, “The study is important in understanding functional foods, that is, natural foods that provide beneficial health effects.”

So while the research continues, enjoy your daily venti, whether you like it skinny, whipless, soy, double cupped, half-caf or fully leaded. That morning brew will taste even better knowing that the chlorogenic acid in that cup may be protecting your retina (Source: CBS).