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Clin Ophthalmol. 2011;5:1623-9. doi: 10.2147/OPTH.S25291. Epub 2011 Nov 16.

Effect of caffeine on the intraocular pressure in patients with primary open angle glaucoma.

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  • 1Chandra Eye Research Institute, Allahabad, UP, India.



Coffee and tea are very common nonalcoholic beverages. However, their intake, particularly that of coffee, has been suggested to increase intraocular pressure (IOP) in patients with open angle glaucoma/ocular hypertension. The causative agent has been suggested to be their caffeine content. The objective of this study was to determine if this represents a direct caffeine effect. This study was therefore done using pure caffeine applied directly to the eyes.


The study was conducted with five human volunteers with open angle glaucoma/ ocular hypertension. IOP was measured using a Perkins applanation tonometer. Eye drops of 1% caffeine were prepared in-home. Following the initial (basal) measurement of the IOP, 50 μL of the eye drop preparation was instilled in the eye at 0-, 4-, and 6-hour intervals. IOPs were measured 30 minutes after each instillation. A second study was also undertaken following the first. In this study, the same patients instilled the eye drops three times per day for 1 week at home and then returned to the clinic on day 7. They were then again treated with caffeine eye drops as above and IOPs measured.


In the 1-day study, the mean basal IOP was 23.6 ± 2.80 mmHg. Thirty minutes after instillation of the drops as described, the pressures were 23.2 ± 1.93, 22.2 ± 1.99, and 22.6 ± 2.31. The basal reading was taken at 10 am and another reading was then taken at 10.30 am. Additional eye drops were instilled at 2 and 8 pm and readings taken 30 minutes after each instillation. In the 1 week study, the basal value was 22.6 ± 2.32. After instillation of the drops as above the values were 23 ± 2.16, 22.4 ± 2.27, and 23 ± 1.94.


Administration of caffeine into the eyes of patients did not have any effect on IOP and it remained relatively unchanged. This was true in the 1-day study as well as in the 1-week study. A cumulative effect was not visible. The results therefore demonstrate that caffeine has no significant effect on IOP in patients with glaucoma. Any effects reported in coffee drinkers may therefore be related to other constituents in coffee, known to be generated pyrolytically from endogenous constituents of coffee beans by roasting at relatively high temperature, combined with the osmotic effects imposed by adequate fluid intake, known to be common in glaucoma patients.


caffeine; intraocular pressure; ocular hypertension; open angle glaucoma

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