Caffeine Use May Be the Key to Relief for Millions of Dry Eye Sufferers

Caffeine can increase tear production and may someday be a treatment for dry eye syndrome, a new study shows. All of the participants in this small study produced more tears after taking caffeine than after taking a placebo. It's estimated that caffeine affects about half of all people, though this varies by ethnic group. An earlier study showed that only about 13 percent of caffeine users had dry eye, compared to 17 percent of non-users.

Middle Aged Woman Drinking Coffee

About five percent of the U.S. population has dry eye syndrome. It's more common in women and after age 50. Dry eye sufferers are not able to maintain the healthy layer of tears needed to keep the eye moist and make good vision possible. Their eyes can sting and burn. In some people dry eye escalates into a vision-damaging disease.

It's important to see an ophthalmologist if dry eye symptoms continue. Dry eye treatment options range from simple warm compresses, eye washes and artificial tears to medications and tear drainage devices. Much more research on the caffeine-tear production connection is needed before doctors will know how to best use it to treat dry eye.

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