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Can Coffee Protect Our Eyesight?

Researchers from Cornell University, in New York State, report that drinking coffee may protect against deteriorating eyesight, even blindness.

Although the most well-known coffee ingredient is caffeine, it also contains about 7-9% chlorogenic acid (CGA).  Past studies indicated that this antioxidant could be a powerful neuroprotector and block the deprivation of oxygen in certain areas of the body (hypoxia).

However, the retina is particularly prone to this problem.

"The retina is one of the most metabolically active tissues in the body, consuming oxygen more rapidly than any other tissues, including the brain," the researchers explain.  "Therefore, it is susceptible to a variety of diseases caused by oxidative stress, including AMD, diabetic retinopathy and glaucoma."

The researchers tested the effects of CGA on retinal ganglion cells that were exposed to hypoxia in mice.  They discovered that the cell damage could be reduced when the cells were pretreated with this acid.  The team than induced retinal damage in the eyes of mice and tested the effects of coffee extract and CGA.  Both substances reduced cell mortality, thus helping to prevent retinal degeneration.