Can’t start your morning without a mug of coffee or tea? Before you keep on sipping those cups, take a moment to consider the effects of caffeine on your eyesight.

Coffee, tea, and energy-boosting drinks all have caffeine. This gives you an instant energy boost, and your brain feels ready to kickstart the day.

But as they say, too much of anything is bad. Consuming high quantities of caffeine comes with unpleasant side effects.

You may experience blurry eyes, spasms of the eyelids, dry eyes, and inflammation. Over-consumption of caffeine may even increase your risk of developing glaucoma in the long term.

But all’s not black and bleak.

In this post, we’ll talk about caffeine’s effects on the eyes and how much of it is safe to drink. We’ll also look at the common sources of caffeine and symptoms of caffeine overdose, and discover some great alternatives for a quick energy boost.

How Caffeine Affects Your Vision

Caffeine boosts energy levels and stimulates your brain. It can make your mind feel sharper and improve memory performance during less than optimal study hours, such as early in the morning.

But overindulging in caffeinated drinks can negatively affect your eyes. It can cause blurry vision, jumping eyes, dryness, and inflammation in the short term. In the long term, it can increase your chances of developing glaucoma.

Read on to find out more about caffeine and eyesight.

Short Term Effects of Caffeine

Can caffeine cause eye problems in the short term? The simple answer is yes.

Over-consumption of coffee will increase your blood sugar levels. This may lead to blurred vision and spasms of the eyelid, also called jumping eye.

Drinking caffeinated beverages can give you a tingly feeling in the eye, too. What’s more, it can cause a burning sensation and eye discomfort.

closeup of woman's eye with eyeliner

You may even have dry eyes after drinking too much coffee and tea. This can further lead to inflammation, excessive watering of the eyes, eye infections, redness, grittiness, and corneal abrasion.

Are you experiencing dry, tired eyes? You may have developed dry eye disease. Take the Dry Eye Test.

Although the short-term effects of caffeine aren’t serious or painful, they can hamper your day-to-day activities. You may feel irritated, find it harder to concentrate, and have difficulty reading, working on a computer, or driving.

Long Term Effects of Caffeine

Drinking four or more cups of caffeinated drinks a day can have more serious effects on your eyes. These are generally the result of the long-term overuse of caffeine.

According to a study in Ophthalmology, there’s a direct link between caffeine consumption and glaucoma in participants who are genetically predisposed to have high intraocular pressure. Glaucoma is a disease of the optic nerve in which increased pressure in the eyeball causes gradual loss of sight.

When you drink several strong cups of coffee a day, there is a surge of pressure on your eye. This is bad for glaucoma patients because pressure on the optic nerve is the primary factor for the disease to develop.

If you suffer from glaucoma, have early symptoms, or a family history of glaucoma, cutting down on your caffeine intake can be a good idea.

Sources of Caffeine

Caffeine is naturally present in the leaves, fruits, and seeds of many plants. In addition, a variety of processed foods and drinks also contain caffeine.

If you’re looking to limit your caffeine consumption, you can simply steer clear of some major sources of caffeine.

These include:

  • Coffee beans
  • Tea leaves
  • Soda
  • Chocolate (cacao)
  • Energy drinks
  • Certain candies and chewing gums
  • Caffeine tablets
  • Yerba mate drink
  • Kola nuts
  • Guarana
  • Medications and supplements high in caffeine
  • Energy-boosting food products, tablets, and powders

How Much Caffeine is Safe to Drink?

You don't have to give up on your morning pick-me-up, though. That’s right— caffeinated drinks in moderation are okay.

According to the Mayo Clinic, 400 milligrams of caffeine per day is safe for most healthy adults. That means about 4 cups of coffee, 10 cans of cola, or 2 energy shots a day.

That said, make sure to check the amount of caffeine in foods and beverages you consume, as they can vary widely from brand to brand. Check out this caffeine chart for more information.

Also, note that some people can be more sensitive to caffeine than others, like those with certain eye diseases and a family history of glaucoma.

Symptoms of Caffeine Overdose

While small amounts of caffeine in your body can go unnoticed, an overdose can come with many unpleasant symptoms.

That’s because caffeine passes quickly to the brain and stimulates your central nervous system. As a result, you may experience dizziness, headaches, pain in the eye, blurred vision, and more.

man with face mask sitting slumped with head in hand black and white photo

The common symptoms of caffeine overdose include:

  • Pain in the eye or forehead
  • Decreased or blurred vision
  • Redness of the eye
  • Seeing rainbows or halos
  • Nausea
  • Headaches
  • Dry and gritty eyes
  • Inflammation or redness in the eye
  • Vomiting
  • Lightheadedness
  • Diarrhea
  • Excitement and heart palpitations
  • Elevated heart rate and blood pressure
  • Insomnia, anxiety, and nervousness
  • Tremor
  • Muscle tension
  • Ringing in the ears

Good to know: Half of the caffeine you consume will still be in your blood six hours later. Your body needs up to 10 hours to clear all coffee from your bloodstream. That’s why drinking coffee all through the day isn't a good idea. It will stay in your body into the night, possibly disrupting your sleep, too.

Caffeine Alternatives for an Energy Boost

Limiting your caffeine intake isn't always easy, especially if you’re a morning coffee person. But if caffeinated drinks aren’t suiting you well, or if you have eye concerns, don’t fret. You can start your morning with caffeine alternatives.

Try out these delicious and aromatic caffeine alternatives for a natural energy boost. They have less caffeine than coffee or none at all.

  • Chicory root coffee
  • Green tea and white tea
  • Golden milk
  • Lemon water
  • Ginseng
  • Kombucha
  • Herbal and flower teas like peppermint, chamomile, rooibos, ginger, hibiscus, echinacea, passionflower, and sage
  • Fruits and vegetable smoothie
  • Apple cider vinegar
  • Chai tea
  • Superfood Wellness Tea

tea leaves in white cup placed on Japanese wooden tea tray

Cutting Back on Caffeine

Whether it’s for eye health reasons, because of sleep deprivation, or because you’re spending a fortune on tea and coffee, cutting back on caffeine can be a challenge.

A sudden decrease in your caffeine intake can cause withdrawal symptoms like headaches, irritability, and difficulty focusing.

Start by keeping tabs. See how much caffeine you’re taking each day. Then cut back gradually. Drink fewer cans of soda or smaller cups of coffee.

You can also go decaf. Most decaffeinated drinks taste much the same as their caffeinated counterparts. But they don’t come with the side effects of caffeine and blurry vision.

Finally, opt for a caffeine alternative. Brew a fresh and flavorful cup of herbal tea or golden milk.

In the end, though caffeine and eyes are linked, you don’t have to quit caffeine altogether. Simply drinking it in moderation can make a big difference. And with so many caffeine free alternatives around, it’s not that hard, either.

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