Tea-totallers may be getting the unexpected benefit of a lowered risk of eye disease—but it’s not exactly clear why.
Credit: Photo: Greg Dupree

Tea is one of the most powerful beverages in our kitchens—it contains ample antioxidants and heart-healthy flavonoids that are essential in any diet. But a new development shows that tea might also be a solution to improved eye health as well.

A new study shows a compelling link between people who drink hot tea regularly and a lowered risk of developing glaucoma, the eye disease which causes nerve damage and can lead to blindness.

Researchers from Brown University and UCLA  found the link after studying health questionnaires responses from more than 1,600 men and women who participated in a national health and nutrition survey.

Published in the British Journal of Opthamology, the study found that people who had enjoyed at least one cup of hot tea each day were also nearly 74 percent less likely to contract glaucoma. Drinkers of coffee, iced tea, decaf tea, and soft drinks didn’t experience the same effect.

Because the study only found a relationship between drinking tea and lowered risk of glaucoma, it’s not clear if tea is a preventative agent against deteriorating eyesight, or if there are other factors involved.

When reached by email, lead researcher Anne Coleman attributed the possible cause to flavonoids, saying that they “have been shown to have neuroprotective effects in animal models.” Asked if she planned to research whether tea actually helps prevent the disease, Coleman was optimistic. “The theory is certainly plausible and merits further clinical and laboratory study.”