Can a Cup of Hot Tea a Day Help Preserve Eyesight?

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Having a cup of hot tea every day may reduce your risk for blindness.

Researchers have found that a daily cup of hot tea reduces the risk for glaucoma, a disease in which a buildup of fluid in the eye can damage the optic nerve and lead to gradual vision loss.

The study, in the British Journal of Ophthalmology, included 1,678 participants in a larger national health survey. Using photographs of the optic disc and other diagnostic techniques, they recorded instances of glaucoma in 2005 and 2006, and correlated them with reports of beverage consumption over the previous year.

After adjusting for age, body mass index, sex, ethnicity, smoking and diabetes, they found that people who drank at least a cup of hot tea a day were 74 percent less likely to have glaucoma. They found no association with soft drinks, iced tea, decaffeinated tea or with coffee, decaffeinated or not.

This observational study does not prove causality, but the researchers write that tea contains phytochemicals and flavonoids with anti-inflammatory properties that may protect the optic nerve.

“If you drink hot tea, keep on doing it,” said the senior author, Dr. Anne L. Coleman, a professor of ophthalmology at the University of California, Los Angeles. “But I wouldn’t switch to it if you prefer something else. This is a preliminary finding, and we need to do more studies.”