Many of us enjoy a cup or two of coffee in the morning to keep our eyes awake and mind alert. But what else can caffeine do for our eyes?
If you suffer from dry eye syndrome (DES), characterized by dry, itchy and red eyes, you may have been advised by a friend or doctor to steer clear of caffeinated coffee due to its diuretic effect. Caffeinated beverages increase the frequency of urination, which leads to water loss. Yet some research suggests that a cup of caffeinated joe might actually promote tear production.
Below, we'll explore scientific research that studies the relationship between caffeine consumption and tear film.
What is Dry Eye Syndrome?
- Dry eye syndrome (DES) is an eye condition characterized by dry, stinging, red, itchy eyes. It can be caused by several factors: poor tear quality, insufficient tears, allergies, environmental irritants and excessive digital screen time. Left untreated, DES can lead to corneal damage and scarring and even permanent vision loss in severe cases.
Certain foods and beverages have been shown to improve the symptoms of DES, like fish high in omega 3s, leafy greens, seeds, nuts, and...possibly coffee.
How Does Caffeine Consumption Impact Dry Eye Syndrome?
- Caffeine contains a chemical called xanthine, which has been shown to stimulate tear production when applied topically to the eye. As yet, there is insufficient published research to confirm that ingesting xanthine provides the same tear-producing effect, though preliminary studies seem to suggest that it does.
A study published in Optometry and Vision Science found that drinking caffeinated beverages significantly increased tear production after 45-90 minutes. Interestingly, age, gender and body mass had no bearing on the outcome.
Another study, published in Ophthalmology, found similar results. Researchers measured the participants' tear film twice: once after consuming caffeine and once after drinking a placebo. Their tear film was thickest after consuming caffeine, especially in those with a specific genetic makeup.
While both of these studies showed promising results, they didn't include enough participants to accurately project the findings onto the general population.
If You Have Dry Eye Syndrome, We Can Help
Finding relief from dry eye syndrome relies on understanding the root cause of your symptoms. Only your eye doctor can diagnose the problem and determine the best treatment for you, whether in the form of medicated or lubricating eye drops, in-clinic treatments, personalized eye hygiene products like eyelid cleansing wipes, nutritional supplements and more.
For long-lasting relief from dry eye syndrome, schedule your dry eye consultation with Eye.Q. Optometry today.
Eye.Q. Optometry serves patients from Los Angeles, Eagle Rock, Highland Park, and Pasadena, all throughout California.