Caffeine May Help Prevent Macular Degeneration

Caffeine May Help Prevent Macular Degeneration

If you ever needed an excuse to keep drinking your beloved coffee now may be the time to cash in on caffeine consumption. Drinking beverages with this stimulant could help maintain healthy vision and potentially prevent optical diseases such as age-related macular degeneration. 

Caffeine has received a lot of negative press over the years citing it as a dangerous health compromising stimulant. However, in reality, it is the abuse of this addicting compound that causes such an outcry in the first place. When people drink three to five cups of caffeine a day it could be too much of an overload for the liver and other vital organs not to mention the constant stimulation to the digestive process. Yet, if you are able to control your caffeine intake to one to two cups per day (along with healthy food choices and adequate exercise) there is a chance that you could keep your eyesight in top shape. 

Learn how caffeine may help prevent macular degeneration and ways to safely and effectively keep caffeine in your diet for optimal results.

How Caffeine May Be a Superfood in Disguise

The compounds found in roasted coffee beans are getting more positive study results than ever before. For decades the healing effects of these compounds have been overshadowed by so many iterations of coffee as many coffee store chains developed into creating fattening desserts rather than a simple beverage.

According to Johns Hopkins Medicine, drinking about eight ounces of coffee (roughly 95 mg of caffeine) two to four times per day has shown an association with:

  • Reducing the risk of type II diabetes
  • Prevent heart disease
  • Lower chances of developing Parkinson’s Disease
  • Decreasing Alzheimer’s risk
  • Protecting the liver
  • Decreasing the breakage of DNA strands
  • Lessening colon cancer risk
  • Reducing the possibility of suffering a stroke

Drinking coffee black (without anything in it which means no sweetener or creamer) increases caffeine consumption but also increases the healing benefits of caffeine and other compounds. The more fillers you add to coffee the more it detracts from its beneficial effects. This can be paramount in not only the list above, but for your eyesight as well.

Coffee for AMD

There are many natural fruits and vegetables that contain antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties but some are way more potent than others. Caffeine from legumes (coffee beans) and leaves (such as Yerba mate and green tea) have been studied to determine any positive or negative effects it would have on the human body. 

Due to the popularity of coffee and tea (two of the most consumed beverages on the globe with tea actually being number one) there are many of these studies. As a result, caffeine and other properties in coffee and tea has shown to be a good preventative and possible treatment for age-related macular degeneration (AMD) and other ocular health applications.

One study by researchers from the University of Catania, Italy published in Frontiers in Pharmacology who studied how caffeine protects against retinal inflammation found that,

“In conclusion, we demonstrated that caffeine was able to protect RPE [retinal pigment epithelial] cells and RGCs [retinal ganglion cells] from damage elicited by LPS [lipopolysaccharide – a protective cellular membrane] and ischemia [compromised blood supply], respectively, showing a key role of BDNF [brain protein production called brain-derived neurotrophic factor]. These findings suggest that caffeine may be a potential candidate for retinal degeneration treatment.”

Reducing Retinal Hypoxia

Hypoxia is when there is an insufficient oxygen supply to a particular organ or other systemic structure which can cause cell death and lead to disease. Hypoxia happening in the eye has been linked as one possible contributor to AMD.

In a study of metabolic physiology in age-related macular degeneration by researchers from University of Iceland, National University Hospital, it is shown how hypoxia is a real concern regarding AMD progression stating that,

“Vitreoretinal adhesion can exacerbate retinal hypoxia and accumulation of cytokines [inflammatory proteins], such as VEGF [vascular endothelial growth factor]. Vitreoretinal traction can also cause hypoxia by retinal elevation. [] If the resulting hypoxia and consequent VEGF accumulation crosses a threshold, this will trigger effusion [overflow] and neovascularization [new blood vessel growth].”

Coffee beans were studied to determine the effects of caffeine as well as CGA, chlorogenic acid a potent antioxidant found in the coffee bean.

“Our in vitro [test tube] and in vivo [whole living organisms] studies demonstrated that coffee and its major component, CGA, significantly reduce apoptosis [cell death] of retinal cells induced by hypoxia and NO [nitric oxide], and that coffee consumption may help in preventing retinal degeneration.”

Ease Macular Degeneration, Lower HF Risk

When your heart is compromised a host of systemic health challenges can arise. Scientists have found many links between heart disease and macular degeneration with some evidence showing a risk of HF (heart failure) when AMD is present.

A study of research out of Department of Cognitive Science, University of California, Berkeley, and the Department of Family Medicine, Gil Medical Center, Gachon University College of Medicine, Incheon, South Korea found that,

“AMD is a risk factor for CVD, which is primarily driven by the increased risk of stroke in patients with late AMD. Moreover, these results suggested that AMD treatment and screening for CVD in AMD patients may have unexplored clinical benefits.”

Drinking two or more cups of black coffee per day may offer caffeine induced protective qualities that may work both ways, preventing and reducing AMD as well as reducing HF risk.

A study published in the journal Circulation reported,

“We identified multiple dietary and behavioral risk factors for cardiovascular disease outcomes including marital status, red meat consumption, whole milk consumption, and coffee consumption. Among these dietary variables, increasing coffee consumption was associated with decreasing long-term risk of HF. Higher coffee intake was found to be associated with reduced risk of HF in all three studies.”

Re-think your caffeine intake and consider how it may be helping prevent macular degeneration. Obviously do not overdo it and be aware of how your body reacts to caffeine so as not to overstimulate. Talk too your doctor about caffeine consumption to determine the best choice for your health.