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New Study Links Caffeinated Coffee To Vision Loss 203

Posted by timothy
from the whiskey-linked-to-vision-blurriness-in-followup dept.
dsinc writes "A new study suggests caffeinated coffee drinkers should limit their intake to reduce their chances of developing vision loss or blindness. According to a scientific paper in Investigative Ophthalmology & Visual Science, heavy caffeinated coffee consumption is associated with an increased risk of developing exfoliation glaucoma (abstract), the leading cause of secondary glaucoma worldwide. 'Scandinavian populations have the highest frequencies of exfoliation syndrome and glaucoma,' said author Jae Hee Kang, ScD, of Channing Division of Network Medicine at Brigham and Women's Hospital in Boston, Mass. 'Because Scandinavian populations also have the highest consumption of caffeinated coffee in the world, and our research group has previously found that greater caffeinated coffee intake was associated with increased risk of primary open-angle glaucoma, we conducted this study to evaluate whether the risk of exfoliation glaucoma or glaucoma suspect may be different by coffee consumption.'"
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New Study Links Caffeinated Coffee To Vision Loss

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  • by Ashenkase (2008188) on Thursday October 04, 2012 @11:23AM (#41549499)

    Good for you... Coffee is bad for you... Coffee is good for you... Coffee is bad for you...

    Coffee is making me sea sick.

    • by JustOK (667959) on Thursday October 04, 2012 @11:32AM (#41549581) Journal

      Try the sea weed

    • by Hatta (162192) on Thursday October 04, 2012 @11:36AM (#41549621) Journal

      Smoke some Cannabis. It will help with both the nausea and the glaucoma.

      • Re: (Score:2, Informative)

        by ShieldW0lf (601553)

        Smoke some Cannabis. It will help with both the nausea and the glaucoma.

        Dammit... beat me to it!

    • Re:Coffee is... (Score:5, Insightful)

      by Anrego (830717) * on Thursday October 04, 2012 @11:37AM (#41549639)

      Indeed.

      Personally I figure anything in moderation is probably less toxic than the world in general. If you enjoy coffee, drink a few cups a day and don't worry about it! Don't specifically drink coffee if you don't like it, and don't drink 15 cups a day..

      The interesting thing is that we worry about these kind of slight threats to our health, but ignore the absolute real killers: sitting on our asses for most fo the day, not getting enough sleep, eating food that is barely food, stress...

      I like to think any of those things are going to be a much bigger factor on my longevity than the cup of coffee I had this morning..

      • The interesting thing is that we worry about these kind of slight threats to our health, but ignore the absolute real killers: sitting on our asses for most fo the day, not getting enough sleep, eating food that is barely food, stress

        Equally interesting may be that the folks who drink the most coffee are the ones that follow your illustration
        • Stole the thoughts right out of my brain (I'm sorry, it must have been scary!). You could probably add "stare at a computer screen all day" to the list of things heavy coffee drinkers typically do.
      • by Type44Q (1233630)

        eating food that is barely food

        I thought fake food was okay... in moderation. :p

        • by Anrego (830717) *

          Obviously a joke, but that statement is probably true!

          The occasional dinner that came in a box that you shove in the oven for an hour would probably be fine if the majority of ones food was home cooked from relatively clean ingredients. For most (myself included, though I am trying..) it's probably the opposite .. with the kind of food we should be eating every day being an occasional indulgance, or even novelty!

          • by Zordak (123132)

            The occasional dinner that came in a box that you shove in the oven for an hour would probably be fine

            Um, 19 (I don't know, '64 maybe?) called. They want their "easy dinner" model back. Now excuse me while I shove a chemical-based foodlike substance in the microwave for three minutes or so.

    • We're boned.

    • by Geoffrey.landis (926948) on Thursday October 04, 2012 @12:02PM (#41549919) Homepage

      Sorry, their conclusions are just not statistically justified.

      Let me review what they found:
      Compared total caffeine consumption of less than 125 mg/day to greater than 500 mg/day: no significant result
      Compared abstain from caffeinated coffee to greater than 3 cups of caffeinated coffee daily: glaucoma relative risk in the interval 1.09 to 2.54
      Compared consumption of (caffeinated soda, caffeinated tea, decaffeinated coffee or chocolate) to non-consumers of same: no significant result

      That relative risk that they quote as being significant has a confidence interval with a lower end of 1.09; which is only barely above 1.0 (1.0= no effect). So, they studied one particular variety of one particular minor disease (of many health effects). Finding one effect at a trivial level is meaningless.

      Ob xkcd: http://xkcd.com/882/ [xkcd.com]

    • by ackthpt (218170) on Thursday October 04, 2012 @12:07PM (#41549969) Homepage Journal

      Good for you... Coffee is bad for you... Coffee is good for you... Coffee is bad for you...

      Coffee is making me sea sick.

      Which is why I switched to tea ... which is good for you ... which is bad for you .. which is good for you ...

      • by cyn1c77 (928549) on Thursday October 04, 2012 @01:53PM (#41551301)

        Good for you... Coffee is bad for you... Coffee is good for you... Coffee is bad for you...

        Coffee is making me sea sick.

        Which is why I switched to tea ... which is good for you ... which is bad for you .. which is good for you ...

        I am contemplating just switching to soda. That way I'll know that it's bad for me.

        I just can't take the uncertainty anymore.

    • Re: (Score:2, Funny)

      by Anonymous Coward

      Coffee is making me sea sick.

      No I think the article is trying to say it makes you see sick.

    • by mcgrew (92797) *

      I think the key word is "suggest". I don't know how widespread glaucoma is, but if anyone I know has it I don't know that they do. The, I don't know how many people I know have high blood pressure, either.

      I would think that anything that would increase blood pressure would be a risk for glaucoma. When they test occular pressure they tell you not to cross your legs, as that raises blood pressure and gives them a false, high reading.

      If your blood pressure is high, you have a lot more dangerous things to worry

    • by Wansu (846)

        Good for you... Coffee is bad for you... Coffee is good for you... Coffee is bad for you...

      I need my glasses to read this.

    • by gildur (2478620)
      Perhaps the increased rate of vision loss is due to the extra life span gained from all the coffee.
    • According to the latest medical studies on coffee and caffeine, I can choose to be blind and have a functioning brain when I get older or I can see but not actually remember any of it. If I had to choose, I think I would choose blind and a functioning brain.

  • by gregor-e (136142) on Thursday October 04, 2012 @11:24AM (#41549507) Homepage
    It may be that people whose genetics predispose them to exfoliation glaucoma are also more than usually enchanted by coffee. Still, interesting observation.
    • by TWX (665546)
      Or people in cold, cold climates are literally freezing their eyeballs into having health problems via exposure to the elements, and also happen to like hot beverages to counteract the cold...

      I want to see the same study conducted on Scandinavian ex-pats who drink copious amounts of coffee in less frigid climates.
    • This seems to be what a lot of research into drugs reveals--that one substance can affect two different people drastically, and sometimes it is genetic. I've read studies linking caffeine with protective cardiovascular effects in one group of people, and damaging cardiovascular effects in others. And there's also been studies linking increased caffeine consumption with reduced chance of cognitive decline and related illnesses later in life.

      While we are at it: studies linking marijuana with protective effe

      • Re: (Score:2, Interesting)

        by Anonymous Coward

        Must agree and disagree.

        From our ignorant, "try banging the rocks together guys," state of science, yes, it feels like a crapshoot.

        But these kinds of studies are great to have on hand, so that when DNA is well understood and cheaply examined we can find the factors that make caffeine good and bad for a person. The net result, in the Gattaca Age, will be that you go to the thrice repurposed GeneOMat drive through, get your print out and at the bottom just above your total_fitness_index, will be the list of

      • by mcgrew (92797) *

        While we are at it: studies linking marijuana with protective effects in MS patients, compared to studies showing people with certain types of genes (a small percentage of the population) have an increased risk of psychosis after use.

        That sounds interesting; a correlation has been shown, but what I've read suggests that those predisposed to psychosis are also predisposed to smoking pot. I haven't read of any genetic component linking pot and psychosis, although there are genetic components to most mental il

        • I wish I could find the study off the top of my head. It linked a specific gene with a dramatically increased risk for psychosis, and adults without this gene were conversely, at very low risk.. I saw the study a few years ago so it's one of those things where I can't recall any more detail than that. Maybe google..

    • Just to throw out something else to consider:

      http://www.eurekalert.org/pub_releases/2012-01/meae-ots122911.php [eurekalert.org]

      "Outside temperatures, sun exposure and gender may trigger glaucoma"

      Importantly, those with a lifetime residential history of living in the middle tier and south tier of the United States was associated with 47% and 75% reduced risks, respectively, compared with living in the northern tier...

      Without having read the full paper, it seems to me that what they're saying is that your location has a lot to do with the risk. Perhaps it's the extra exposure to UV/Sunlight from snow reflection? So it makes sense that TFA finds an increase in risk for people in Scandinavian regions.

    • by djsmiley (752149)

      Blondes who experince more snow glare than anyone else in the world? Nah never.

    • by Grayhand (2610049)

      It may be that people whose genetics predispose them to exfoliation glaucoma are also more than usually enchanted by coffee. Still, interesting observation.

      I thought the same thing. It seems far more likely it's genetic than coffee related. They are hardly the only population with a heavy coffee consumption. It would be more compelling if they found people in professions and such that drank a lot of coffee had the problem. I come out of entertainment and we drank it like fish and I don't recall many, if any in truth, with the problem. The French drink very strong coffee and a lot of it and they don't have a spike.

    • And...it's a stretch to even find a correlation, with percentages that small!

  • by lorenlal (164133) on Thursday October 04, 2012 @11:27AM (#41549527)

    So, does this mean it's time to start evaluating a possible reason?

    I ask because I love my coffee. Seriously, I'm stupid for it... But the last thing I need is another activity that supposedly makes me go blind...

    • by ColdWetDog (752185) on Thursday October 04, 2012 @11:44AM (#41549709) Homepage

      No, it means that you should stop reading dumb clinical articles taken out of context on Slashdot.

      This is just one of those hundreds of thousands of medical articles trawling the data for a correlation so somebody can chase after another grant. According to TFA, they reviewed records of almost 79000 people and came up with 360 cases of this particular form of glaucoma. Then they take the self reported caffeine intake, adjust for 'other confounders' (waves hands) and come up with a weak (Relative Risk [wikipedia.org] 1.4) association that is barely statistically significant and likely not clinically significant at all.

      Hrumphh. Not impressed

      (Goes back to quaffing his Nuclear Waste level caffeinated beverage)

      • by Proteus (1926)
        This is why I hate science reporting. This kind of study exists entirely to obtain funding for higher-quality research. But it's getting reported as though it were conclusive. The way research of most types works is that you do a cheap, low-quality study that tells you whether there's an interesting enough thing happening to warrant a more-expensive, more-thorough study. In this case, the conclusion is basically "hey, it's possible that caffeine intake might be a factor in glaucoma; we should really do mor
    • by Pope (17780)

      So, does this mean it's time to start evaluating a possible reason?

      I ask because I love my coffee. Seriously, I'm stupid for it... But the last thing I need is another activity that supposedly makes me go blind...

      So keep drinking coffee, just drink less of it each time. I've cut down in a major way over the last year, but I still need two a day to keep me awake and my brain working. I just drink way less both times.

    • So, does this mean it's time to start evaluating a possible reason?

      I ask because I love my coffee. Seriously, I'm stupid for it... But the last thing I need is another activity that supposedly makes me go blind...

      Then stop! Not only does it make you go blind, but gawd kills a kitten every time you do it too!

  • Other explanations (Score:4, Interesting)

    by Zontar_Thing_From_Ve (949321) on Thursday October 04, 2012 @11:29AM (#41549545)
    Geez. To me this is kind of like in the movie "The Jerk" when the crazy guy is trying to kill Steve Martin's character by shooting him from across the road with a rifle and Martin concludes that the guy has a problem with cans and he's actually attacking the cans, which just happen to also be everywhere Steve is.

    Scandinavian people are more blue eyed than most ethnic groups and it's been known for years that blue eyed people may be more sensitive to vision problems caused by sunlight. It could also be that for some reason (ozone depletion?) that Scandinavia gets stronger sunlight than other regions. If they want to convince me that there is something to do this, show me a study in Brazil where there aren't very many blue eyed people and they drink a lot of coffee too.
    • If they want to convince me that there is something to do this, show me a study in Brazil where there aren't very many blue eyed people and they drink a lot of coffee too.

      Or conversely, they could compare the Scandinavian people who drink coffee with the Scandinavian people who do not drink coffee, as they actually have done this in this study [iovs.org]. Not that this is perfect either, the Scandinavian people who actually do not drink coffee have already pre-self-selected themselves, so those people could be unusually attentive health-wise with the things they put in their body and it could be another factor that could affect their lack of Glaucoma precursors.

  • by Tepar (87925) on Thursday October 04, 2012 @11:29AM (#41549563) Homepage

    From the abstract:
    Compared with participants whose cumulatively updated total caffeine consumption was <125 mg/day, participants who consumed 500 mg/day had a trend toward increased risk of EG/EGS that was not statistically significant (RR = 1.43; 95% confidence interval [CI], 0.98–2.08); P trend = 0.06).

    If it's not statistically significant, then how can we take this seriously?

    • You're cherry picking a bit. The difference between (this specific form of) glaucoma rates between moderate (one cup) drinkers and less moderate (3+ cup drinkers) was not statistically significant. The difference between caffeine abstainers (those sad examples of humanity) and any caffeine addict was (barely) statistically significant.

      However, all that says is that the the argument that "the association of caffeine intake and certain forms of glaucoma using this data set and these assumptions (the confoun

    • From the abstract:

      Compared with participants whose cumulatively updated total caffeine consumption was <125 mg/day, participants who consumed 500 mg/day had a trend toward increased risk of EG/EGS that was not statistically significant (RR = 1.43; 95% confidence interval [CI], 0.98–2.08); P trend = 0.06).

      If it's not statistically significant, then how can we take this seriously?

      Can someone translate the next phrase for me?

      Compared to abstainers, those who drank 3 cups of caffeinated coffee daily were at increased risk of EG/EGS (RR = 1.66; 95% CI, 1.09–2.54; P trend = 0.02).

      Does this mean that compared to the abstainers of coffee, the results are indeed significant??
      Can someone tell me what those numbers mean, and how they compare to the previous numbers.

      Because in their conclusions, they seem to imply that they found something:

      Conclusions. We observed a positive association between heavier coffee consumption with risk of EG/EGS in this large prospective study.

  • Pluheese.... (Score:5, Informative)

    by bagboy (630125) <neo@arcti c . net> on Thursday October 04, 2012 @11:30AM (#41549565)
    Someone should read the article a little better instead of posting some inflaming title... FTFA, "participants who consumed 500 mg/day had a trend toward increased risk of EG/EGS that was not statistically significant". Notice the "not statistically significant" part? Also, " We did not find associations with consumption of other caffeinated products". Way to panic!
    • by Mr. Frilly (6570)

      Read the next line: "Compared to abstainers, those who drank 3 cups of caffeinated coffee daily were at increased risk of EG/EGS (RR = 1.66; 95% CI, 1.09–2.54; P trend = 0.02)."

      Still, given that there were 120,000 data points in this study, and they don't seem to be correcting for multiple comparisons, I would think a P of 0.02 is pretty weak.

    • So tea is still safe. Now if only there was a safe alternative to masturbation I wouldn't have to worry about my vision at all.

  • by blahbooboo (839709) on Thursday October 04, 2012 @11:33AM (#41549587)

    So in the last 6-12 months coffee and red wine have been show to prevent pretty much everything -- heart disease, dementia, hypertension, aging etc.
    Pop science is so tiring. Fact is all of these studies are incredibly dependent on the population.

    The only thing know for sure is living is hazardous to your health...

  • by Maxo-Texas (864189) on Thursday October 04, 2012 @11:41AM (#41549691)

    For 80k women, there were a total 360 cases (.45%).

    The increase was higher for women in families who already had a history of glaucoma.

    The link was specific to caffeinated coffee and wasn't found for other products (Tea, Chocolate, decaffeinated coffee)

    There was a tiny statistically significant increase compared to abstainers.

    I.e. take those 360 cases, and say there were 160 cases among abstainers and 200 cases among caffeinated coffee drinkers. So the actual increased number of cases due to drinking caffeinated coffee in the population of 80k women may have been something like .05%. This is a rough swag. The actual increase was:
    "increased risk of EG/EGS (RR = 1.66; 95% CI, 1.09â"2.54; P trend = 0.02)"

    So give up a lifetime of drinking coffee, the other benefits of drinking coffee in return for reducing your risk of Glaucoma very very slightly.

  • So, we need to avoid coffee to avoid going blind, or drink it regularly so that we don't get Alzheimer's?

  • remember folks, add weed to your coffee.

    It will both prevent glaucoma and take the harsh edge off the coffee buzz.

  • Coffee AND 24" screen it is then.

  • Caffeinated coffee? That's just "Coffee" - add words if you've taken away the good stuff, not when it's au naturel.
    • by geekoid (135745)

      They need to be specific and indicate WHAT in the coffee they were watching.
      Science needs to be specific, get used to it.

  • by metrometro (1092237) on Thursday October 04, 2012 @12:04PM (#41549939)

    It's all fatal. Some faster than others, I admit, but everyone eventually becomes infirm and dies and causality is pretty firm linked to existing in the world and doing things.

    So, can we have good regulators to worry about stuff like Chromium in tap water and just start ignoring the really subtle stuff?

    • by geekoid (135745)

      Fatal: Causing or capable of causing death.

      Not everything is fatal. Sure, based on the evidence it is highly likely everyone will die, but you can't not say everyone until everyone has become infirm or died. ... really subtle stuff?:
      so you magically know what is subtle and not? Please, let us know how you can not the effects of everything and determine what is subtle.

  • Dammit! (Score:2, Funny)

    by Lumpy (12016)

    I upped my coffee intake to stave off Dementia and Alzheimer disease... bot now I'm gonna go blind....

    Give a guy a break will ya scientists?

  • A lot of people seem to associate coffee and caffeine, but all around the world, people get caffeine from other sources. Tea, chocolate, guarana, etc. Caffeine is not the only ingredient in these things that might affect you. For instance, the primary stimulant in cocoa is actually Theobromine.

    One interesting example is a COFFEE ALLERGY. It doen't occur very often, but it does happen, and more often than with tea, for instance. Caffeine suppresses immune response (i.e. histamine production associated w

  • by theedgeofoblivious (2474916) on Thursday October 04, 2012 @12:14PM (#41550085)

    Doctors, can you please clarify this? Eating breakfast is becoming a terrifying experience. (Circle all that apply)

    Coffee is good / bad for you.
    Eggs are good / bad for you.
    The healthier topping for my toast is butter(which has lots of saturated fat) / margarine(which is trans fat) .

    I anticipate the stories of how whole wheat toast is secretly the cause of cancer.

    • by DeadCatX2 (950953)

      My fiancee is on a low-carb, medium-fat, high-protein diet, with once-a-week high-carb binge days. Under this diet and literally zero exercise, she has managed to lose an average of about 1-2 pounds per week, consistently for several months.

      After nearly a year of this diet, it got kinda old. So she tried to be responsible, added some fruit and whole grains and milk to her diet, basically moved to medium-everything. Still avoided processed grains like white bread. Suddenly she started to gain nearly a po

      • ... and literally zero exercise

        I think I found a bigger problem than her diet.

        ... our bodies don't know what to do with it all.

        See previous. Carbs = energy = exercise.
        It's sad that this notion of less weight = more health has been distilled into our brains. Your body needs exercise, and it needs a balanced diet. Your weight will change depending on what you eat, when you eat it, how much you eat. And for the love of all things, get a better measure than weight. Your weight can fluctuate 5-10 lbs per week, stop fixating on it. Use your weigh scales only for measuring the weight of yo

        • by DeadCatX2 (950953)

          The point was to stress that this diet was working in the total absence of exercise, not that she doesn't exercise at all anymore. She has been gradually introducing exercise into her routine. Her previous diet included an hour of exercise every day and dietary changes and she was struggling to lose a pound a month.

          And your psychoanalysis of "less weight = more health" completely leaves out the fact that being overweight is in fact not healthy either. She's not trying to be some stick figure (yuck!), she

      • by geekoid (135745)

        Actually, it a by product of watching your diet. Once you do that, regardles of the 'diet' you will do better, and then cave with time. Usually your brain will start rationalizing the behavior. Classic human behaviour.

        Eat balanced and light and make it the way you eat. Not a diet. Binging is bad. Any diet the recommends that should be ignored.

        Our bodies know exactly what to do with it. Save it for an emergency.

        • by DeadCatX2 (950953)

          No, just watching her diet is NOT enough. Her previous diet was balanced, and involved whole grains, fruits, and an hour of exercise every day. She even counted calories to make sure she didn't go over the daily recommended amount. She was lucky to lose a pound a month, if that. Carbohydrate restriction alone has proven to be far more effective, and doubly so in concert with exercise.

          Contrary to your recommendation to ignore diets that incorporate a binge day (got any scientific evidence to support this

    • by geekoid (135745)

      A cup of coffee with an eff and a piece of toast is fine.
      two eggs, bacon toast 2 coffee pack with cream and sugar is not fine.

      pre1950 or so, the Average american breakfast was a cup of coffee and toast. The 'farmers breakfast' was creating for marketing.

      While the media likes to paint good/bad many times that not it at all. It's usually a property of the item that was study. Add to the the media makes every study sound like it's the final study; in fact you need several studies to begin to be informative. Th

    • by caluml (551744)

      I anticipate the stories of how whole wheat toast is secretly the cause of cancer.

      If you burn it, it is [wikipedia.org].

  • If that's the case then half the people of Seattle should be walking with a cane. People there drink a LOT of coffee. I'd like to see a few more studies before I buy into this one.

  • If it is not illegal, Immoral or causes cancer it's just not good for you :-)

  • And wait five minutes for the next one, which will of course sight different evidence, and say the opposite thing.
  • Coffee and wanking. :(

  • WTF? Isn't that what is called 'Coffee'? Caffeine isn't artificially introduced into coffee. It's part of coffee.

    • by geekoid (135745)

      "Coffee" is a set of prepared drinks that also included decaffeinated coffee.
      "Caffeine" is a set that includes more then Coffee.

  • Not sure what those researchers wrote - I don't see any problem here!

  • I was fucking blind before I started drinking fucking coffee.

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