Professor Anthony Khawaja is guest speaker at Swedish Ophthalmology Society Conference

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Ophthalmology Society Conference

Professor Anthony Khawaja recently attended the annual Swedish Ophthalmology Society conference in Uddevalla as an International expert guest speaker. Representing UCL Institute of Ophthalmology and Moorfields Eye Hospital in London, he presented on ‘Genetics and Personalised Medicine in Glaucoma’.

Focusing on the Swedish ‘Fika’ (coffee and sweet pastry) rituals and high caffeine consumption per capita (8.2kg per year), included in the presentation was a recent study that Professor Khawaja co-authored. The research looked at the link between habitual caffeine intake, with intraocular pressure (IOP) and glaucoma. The study, which involved over 120,000 British participants, concluded that for those with the strongest genetic predisposition to glaucoma, greater caffeine consumption was associated with higher IOP and higher risk of glaucoma.

Professor Khawaja pointed out that although this association was seen across the whole range of caffeine intake, those drinking over 5 cups of coffee (or other caffeinated drinks) per day were at the most significant risk. But, this study doesn’t prove conclusively the cause and effect and further randomised controlled trials would be needed to see if there are other factors involved.

There is building evidence that simple lifestyle changes can help to manage eye pressure, with limiting caffeine consumption being just one. “Glaucoma patients often ask if they can help to protect their sight through lifestyle changes, however this has been a relatively understudied area until now,” he said.

One of Professor Khawaja’s research group’s major interests is lifestyle factors that may influence glaucoma risk. They have examined multiple factors including alcohol consumption, salt intake and physical activity.