Scientific research has previously shown tea to have a whole host of health benefits – from boosting gut health to improving brain function – and now a new study suggests that it may benefit eyesight.
US researchers have found that regularly drinking a hot cup of tea could substantially reduce a person’s likelihood of developing glaucoma – a fairly common eye condition that can result in loss of vision. Risk factors for developing glaucoma include age, a medical history of diabetes, obesity and hypertension.
The team looked at the results of eye examinations from 1,678 participants aged 40 and over. They also analysed the participants’ responses to a questionnaire about how often they drank coffee, hot tea, soft drinks or iced tea, and whether or not those drinks were caffeinated.
All in all, 84 participants were found to have glaucoma and, while there was no link between drinking coffee, soft drinks, decaffeinated tea or iced tea and having the condition, there did appear to be a link to hot tea – as those who consumed more than six cups a week were roughly 74% less likely to develop the condition. Anne Coleman, co-author of the research from the University of California, Los Angeles, said: “Tea drinkers should feel comfortable about drinking tea, but should realise that the results are preliminary and drinking tea may not prevent glaucoma.”
Other experts, including Professor Chris Hammond of King’s College London, also said that more research needed to be done before any concrete conclusions could be made. Speaking to The Daily Mail, he said:
“These results are interesting and add to the increasing consensus that tea contains antioxidants and other compounds that are good for our health. Glaucoma becomes more common with age, and is a significant cause of blindness in the UK… However, as this study looked at many dietary factors and is only a snapshot taken at a single time point, further longer-term studies in the UK and other populations are needed see if tea drinking really does protect us from glaucoma.”
Some even went a step further, dismissing the link altogether. Commenting on the findings, Naveed Sattar – professor of metabolic medicine at the University of Glasgow – said that he “would not say in any way that this proves that drinking tea prevents glaucoma,” as the study failed to take into account any external habits or socioeconomic factors that could be at play.
The study was published in the British Journal of Ophthalmology.