Graduation Year


Date of Submission


Document Type

Open Access Senior Thesis

Degree Name

Bachelor of Arts


Science and Management

Second Department


Reader 1

Gautam Agarwal, PhD

Reader 2

Diane Thomson, Ph.D.

Reader 3


Terms of Use & License Information

Terms of Use for work posted in Scholarship@Claremont.

Rights Information

2024 Jake C Prieto


Coffee, alcohol, and opioids are addictive drugs commonly used in modern society, yet their impact on ocular health remains ambiguous. This systematic review aims to elucidate this ambiguity by examining their effects on intraocular pressure (IOP). Utilizing IOP as a metric, both short-term and long-term effects are evaluated across individuals with irregular IOP levels and healthy subjects. Furthermore, the study analyzes choroidal thickness as an additional measure to reinforce or challenge the findings regarding IOP, leveraging the inverse relationship between the two metrics concerning elevated IOP-related illnesses, such as open-angle glaucoma (OAG).

A comprehensive literature search was performed through Google Scholar to find articles relating to the subject. Once found, 18 sources (including two meta-analyses with additional sources) were analyzed to find a consensus in data on the effects of IOP tested on each of the three drugs. An IOP increase of 1 mmHG was considered a statistically significant change caused by the injection of the drug. For choroidal thickness, a measurement of 20 microns (µm) or higher fluctuations affected by the drug in either direction showed the drug affected the choroid.

In short-term studies, caffeine was found to significantly increase intraocular pressure (IOP) in individuals with genetic predisposition to or existing abnormal IOP levels, but not in healthy subjects. Conversely, habitual alcohol consumption was associated with increased IOP in patients with and without open-angle glaucoma (OAG), while moderate or light ethanol intake showed no significant effect on either population. Studies on opioids revealed a decrease in IOP for both patient groups. Notably, opioids administered directly into the eye resulted in a reduction of IOP by over 10 mmHg within a single day for individuals with elevated IOP levels.

Long-term studies have not identified any significant effects of alcohol or caffeine on intraocular pressure (IOP) or ocular diseases. However, due to limited data in this category, these findings should be viewed as preliminary rather than conclusive. Additional research across all these domains would enhance confidence in the conclusions drawn from this study. Current scientific evidence suggests that excessive alcohol and caffeine consumption may diminish ocular health, while opioid use, particularly when induced in the eye, may have positive effects. This study underscores the importance of moderation in alcohol and caffeine intake and highlights the potential benefits of opioids in maintaining ocular health.