A cataract is a clouding that develops in the crystalline lens of the eye or in its envelope, varying in degree from slight to complete opacity and obstructing the passage of light. Cataracts typically progress slowly to causing near-sightedness (myopia), inability to see colors properly and eventually potential blindness if left untreated.
Researchers from the University of Maryland School of Medicine in Baltimore, MD hypothesized that caffeine may inhibit the intraocular generation of reactive oxygen species in the lens and consequent damage to the tissue.
The researchers studied the oxyradical effects in vitro by incubating mice lenses in medium exposed UVA in the presence of kynurenine with and without caffeine. In vivo studies were conducted in rats by incorporating caffeine with galactose in their diet. In both cases, caffeine was found to be effective in protecting the lens against damage.
According to the study authors, “The 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.”
Additional research to determine the pharmacological significance of this study is underway.