Scandinavian and you like coffee? Join the club! But there may be bad news for us.

It's become fairly typical to read good things about coffee.  Surprisingly, there are many health benefits to drinking my favorite hot beverage so I was a bit surprised when I was surfing through the health section of  Yahoo, and read that coffee might now be linked to loss of vision.

Not only coffee, but a higher instance in Scandinavians.  That doesn't bode well for me as I am now two for two.  Here is a blurb from the article and I've linked to it above if you wish to read the article in its entirety. 

A new Harvard study has discovered a high incidence of vision problems among men and women who drank three or more cups of coffee a day. The research, published in Investigative Ophthalmology & Visual Science, linked heavy consumption of caffeinated coffee with increased likelihood of developing exfoliation glaucoma, an eye disorder that affects about 10 percent of adults over age 50 and can lead to vision loss or blindness.

Specifically, the researchers reported that adults who drank three or more cups of coffee daily were 34 percent more likely to develop exfoliation glaucoma, compared to those who abstained from coffee. Women with a family history of glaucoma were at the highest risk, with their threat of exfoliation glaucoma soaring by 66 percent if they quaffed three or more cups of java per day.

Here’s a closer look at the study and what it means for coffee-lovers.

What is exfoliation glaucoma?

Glaucoma, the second leading cause of blindness in the world, affects 60 million people. It is a group of painless diseases that can damage the optic nerve, if untreated. Typically, this damage results from increased pressure within the eye, usually due to fluid buildup.

Think of the eye as a sink in which the faucet is always running and the drain is always open. A tiny gland behind the iris produces fluid to nourish the cornea and lens, then the fluid flows out of the eye through spongy tissue called the trabecular network, explains the Glaucoma Foundation.

Exfoliation glaucoma, sometimes called “exfoliation syndrome,” is marked by tiny, dandruff-like flakes building up on the lens of the eye. The flakes are rubbed off as the lens of the iris (colored part of the eye) moves, causing the spongy tissue that normally serves as the eye’s drain to get clogged. The result is increased pressure, sometimes very high pressure, inside the eye. The cause of exfoliation glaucoma is unknown, but genetics appear to play a role.

How was the study conducted?

The Harvard study was the first to link heavy coffee consumption and glaucoma risk in Americans by analyzing data from nearly 79,000 women in the well-known Nurses’ Health Study (NHS) and more than 42,000 men in the Health Professionals Followup Study (HPFS).

The researchers looked at men and women ages 40 or older who did not have glaucoma at the start of the study, and had received eye exams from 1980 (for women in the NHS) or 1986 (for men in the HPFS) to 2008. The study looked at health questionnaires the participants filled out about consumption of caffeinated drinks, including coffee, and their medical records (to identify cases of exfoliation glaucoma).

The analysis showed a significant rise in incidences of exfoliation glaucoma among people who drank three or more cups of coffee, but no link between drinking other caffeinated beverages, such as soda or tea.

The Scandinavian Link

"Scandinavian populations have the highest frequencies of exfoliation syndrome and glaucoma," author Jae Hee Kang, ScD, of Channing Division of Network Medicine at Brigham and Women's Hospital in Boston, told Science Daily.

"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 [another form of the disease], we conducted this study to evaluate whether the risk of exfoliation glaucoma…may be different by coffee consumption,” Kang added.