Green Tea Extract and Dry Eye treatment

There has been a good deal of research looking into the effect of Epigallocatechin gallate (EGCG), which is present in green tea, on dry eyes. EGCG has been shown to decrease angiogenesis and inflammation and a paper published by a friend Dr. Reza Dana at Harvard Medical School shows this effect on mice (see below). Green tea extract has also shows a good deal of promise in patients with arthritis and as a cancer fighting drug. Dr. Vincent Li and Dr. William Li of the Angiogenesis Foundation have long recommended green tea extract to fight cancers. 

Dr. Dana showed a positive safety profile of topical EGCG, the next step is to provide EGCG in a topical drop form for our severe dry eye patients. 

It will also be interesting to see if EGCG has an effect on decreasing other inflammatory related disease of the eye as well, such as pterygium recurrence. I hope to start this type of research soon. 

Of note:
A single cup of green tea provides somewhere around 20-35 mg of EGCG (depending on the purity and quality) while a high quality extract can provide 3-4 times that in a single capsule. So while drinking green tea certainly has numerous health benefits, you’d have to drink quite a bit of it to get a significant effect.

Author Manuscript
NIH Public Access

Therapeutic Efficacy of Topical Epigallocatechin Gallate (EGCG) in Murine Dry Eye

Hyun Soo Lee, Sunil K. Chauhan, […], and Reza Dana



To study the efficacy of topical epigallocatechin gallate (EGCG) for treatment of dry eye disease (DED).


Female 7–8 week old C57BL/6 mice were housed in the controlled environment chamber to induce DED. Topical 0.01% or 0.1% EGCG, or vehicle, was applied to the eyes of DED mice. Corneal fluorescein staining and the number of corneal CD11b+ cells were assessed in the different groups. Expression of IL-1β, tumor necrosis factor (TNF)-α, Chemokine ligand 2 (CCL2) and VEGF-A/C/D were evaluated by real-time PCR in the corneas at day 9. Corneas were stained for LYVE-1 to evaluate lympangiogenesis, and the TUNEL assay was used to evaluate apoptosis of corneal epithelial cells.


Treatment with 0.1% EGCG showed a significant decrease in corneal fluorescein staining compared with the vehicle (24.6%, P=0.001), and untreated controls (41.9%, P<0.001). A significant decrease in the number of CD11b+ cells was observed in 0.1% EGCG treated eyes, compared with the vehicle in the peripheral (23.3%, P=0.001) and central (26.1%,P=0.009) corneas. Treatment with 0.1% EGCG was associated with a 
significant decrease in the corneal expression of IL-1β (P=0.029), and CCL2 (P=0.001) compared to the vehicle, and in VEGF-A and -D levels compared to the untreated group (P=0.002, P=0.005, respectively). 0.01% EGCG also showed a decrease in inflammation at the molecular level, but no significant changes in the clinical signs of DED. No cellular toxicity to the corneal epithelium was observed with 0.01% or 0.1% EGCG.

ConclusionsTopical EGCG treatment is able to reduce the clinical signs and inflammatory changes in DED through suppressing the inflammatory cytokines expression and infiltration of CD11b+ cells in the cornea.

Keywords: Cornea, Dry eye disease, Epigallocatechin gallate (EGCG), Lymphangiogenesis

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