Dry eyes, or dry eye disease, occur when a person’s eyes do not produce enough moisture on their outer surface. There is little research to show that caffeine is effective in treating dry eyes.

Scientists are uncertain about the prevalence of dry eyes. According to one 2021 article, they may affect 5–50% of people, based on population-based studies.

There has been some speculation that caffeine may be able to treat dry eyes. However, there is little research to prove that this is the case.

This article will look at what science has to say about the relationship between caffeine and dry eyes. It will also provide some more general information about dry eyes and how to treat them.

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Caffeine is a stimulant that naturally occurs in plants such as tea leaves and coffee beans. Although many people drink caffeinated drinks for the taste and stimulant effects, some individuals believe that caffeine may help with dry eyes.

However, scientists have not found any evidence to support the notion that drinking caffeinated beverages can help with dry eyes.

One 2018 study looked at the coffee drinking habits of people in Korea to see whether or not these had any effect on the prevalence of dry eyes. The authors concluded that increasing the amount of coffee a person drinks does not make dry eyes less likely.

In contrast, there is some evidence to suggest that caffeine intake may positively affect tear secretion. For example, one 2012 study found that caffeine consumption increased tear volume in 78 volunteers — at least in the short term. Also, a 2014 study involving 41 volunteers found that caffeine consumption may stimulate tear secretion.

That said, both studies only involved a small number of participants. Additionally, the 2014 study only looked at people who did not have dry eyes. This means that the results could be different for those with dry eye disease.

It is important to remember that science takes a long time to reach firm results. These two studies did not conclusively establish their findings. All in all, more research is necessary to confirm the relationship between caffeine consumption and tear secretion.

Although some people may want to treat dry eyes with caffeine, there is no scientific basis for this method. It is also important to consider the following common adverse effects of caffeine consumption, according to a 2020 article:

  • anxiety
  • restlessness, fidgeting, or agitation
  • insomnia
  • muscle twitches or tremors
  • irritability
  • an elevated or irregular heart rate

These adverse effects might arise or increase with greater caffeine intake.

As one 2018 paper explains, some scientists once believed that caffeine could worsen dry eyes. This is because they used to think that caffeine had a diuretic effect, meaning that it increases urine production.

However, the authors of this paper noted that scientists no longer believe that caffeine has this effect.

According to a 2020 study, there is currently no cure for dry eye disease.

Nevertheless, some prescription medications can help with the symptoms. These medications include:

  • ocular lubricants, or artificial tears
  • lifitegrast ophthalmic solution, which is an eye drop that helps reduce inflammation
  • OTX-101 0.09%, which increases tear production

Certain lifestyle choices may also help with dry eyes.

For instance, the 2020 study suggested that people who regularly use screens should take frequent breaks and learn blinking exercises. This could help keep their eyes well-lubricated.

The American Optometric Association notes that people can try the following to help reduce the symptoms of dry eyes:

  • blinking regularly when reading or when using screens
  • increasing the humidity at home
  • wearing sunglasses outside to help reduce exposure to the wind and sun
  • drinking eight to 10 glasses of water each day to help prevent dehydration

One 2021 article listed the following as common symptoms of dry eyes:

  • a burning or stinging sensation in the eyes
  • a sandy sensation in the eyes
  • blurry vision
  • heavy eyelids
  • tired eyes

The same review noted that severe cases of dry eye disease can cause some more serious health issues. In some instances, these can go on to cause loss of vision. These health issues include:

  • infectious keratitis
  • ulceration of the eyes
  • scarring of the eyes

Learn more about dry eyes here.

Dry eye disease does not typically lead to serious health conditions. However, it can be uncomfortable and irritating.

Although there is currently no cure for dry eyes, there are medical treatments and home remedies to help manage the symptoms.

Some research has suggested that caffeine may help increase the production of tears in healthy individuals. However, there is little research to prove that caffeine can help treat dry eyes.

Read this article in Spanish.