Caffeine May Prevent Cataracts

One of the liabilities of growing old is an increased chance of developing cataracts, a clouding of the clear lens of an eye that prevents light from passing through the lens to the retina.  As the cloudiness increases, it can block vision entirely, causing total blindness.  Up until now, surgery has been the only way of coping with cataracts, because cataracts cannot be cured with medication, dietary changes, or optical devices.

However, caffeine may have come to the rescue again!  According to recent research, preventing cataracts may be as easy as increasing your intake of caffeinated beverages like coffee, tea, and soft drinks or popping a few caffeine pills.

A study presented at the 2010 Annual Meeting of the Association for Research in Vision and Ophthalmology demonstrated that the caffeine may be effective in protecting the lens against damage that can lead to the formation of cataracts.

Researchers from the University of Maryland School of Medicine compared the development of cataracts in mice lenses in vitro with and without caffeine following exposure to ultraviolet (UV) rays that ordinarily results in the formation of cataracts.  Studies were also conducted on rats in vivo by incorporating caffeine in their diet.  Remarkably, in both cases, caffeine was found to be effective in protecting the lens against the damage that leads to cataract formation.

“These effects of caffeine have not been reported before and are hence considered highly interesting in view of its relatively high content in widely consumed beverages,” the researchers wrote.

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