Coffee for Dry Eyes? 

Dr. Russel Lazarus, June 9, 2021
coffee

Did you know that caffeine may do more for your eyes than just keeping them open in the morning?

If you suffer from dry eye syndrome (DES), you may have been advised to steer clear of caffeinated coffee due to its diuretic effect. However, some research suggests that caffeinated coffee might actually promote tear production.

Contact an eye doctor near you to find out if caffeine can help with your dry eye syndrome.

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What is dry eye syndrome? 

Dry eye syndrome (DES) is an eye condition defined by stinging, itchy, red, dry eyes. It can be caused by several factors: not enough tears, poor tear quality, environmental irritants, allergies and too much screen time.

Left untreated, dry eyes can lead to scarring and corneal damage, and in severe cases, even permanent vision loss. 

Certain foods and beverages have been shown to improve the symptoms of DES, like leafy greens, seeds, nuts, fatty fish, and even potentially coffee. Even many natural remedies can help with dry eyes.

How does caffeine impact dry eyes?

Xanthine, a molecule that caffeine contains, has been shown to enhance tear production when applied topically to the eye.

Although there isn’t enough evidence to prove that consuming xanthine has the same benefits, preliminary research suggests that it does.

Caffeine consumption increased tear production considerably after 45-90 minutes, according to a study published in Optometry and Vision Science.

The journal Ophthalmology published a different study, involving 78 people, and came up with similar findings. The participants’ tear film was assessed twice: once after caffeine consumption and again after a placebo. Their tear film was thicker after consuming coffee.

While both of these studies showed encouraging results, their sample sizes were insufficient to effectively apply the findings to the general population. .

Additionally, little research has been published discussing the impact of coffee on people who suffer from dry eye syndrome.

If I don’t already drink coffee, should I start?

If you have dry eyes, whether you should switch to decaf or go for a double-shot espresso isn’t clear. Always consult a doctor before making significant changes to your diet.

Most healthy people can tolerate roughly 400 mg (approximately 4 cups) of coffee each day, according to experts. Just know that caffeine can create jitters, anxiety, elevate blood pressure, and cause insomnia.

If any of these apply to you, it’s probably better to stay away from caffeinated coffee.

Can I ingest caffeine in other forms besides coffee? 

When it comes to caffeine, coffee and tea are your best bets.

Other caffeine-rich beverages, such as sodas and energy drinks, are often high in sugar and have been linked to major health problems such as high blood pressure, heart disease and diabetes.

How to treat dry eye syndrome

Knowing the underlying cause of your symptoms is crucial to finding treatment for dry eye syndrome. Some natural remedies can offer short-term relief, but only your eye doctor can identify the condition and provide the appropriate treatment for you.

Treatment may include medicated or lubricating eye drops, customized eye hygiene products such as eyelid cleansing wipes, nutritional supplements, and other options.

Schedule an appointment with an eye doctor near you so that you can get long-lasting relief for your dry eye symptoms.