The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has not approved castor oil eye drops as a treatment for cataracts. In fact, there is no approved treatment for cataracts other than cataract removal surgery.
However, some eye drop products claim to be effective in slowing or reversing cataract development. There is no conclusive evidence for these claims.
Keep reading to understand the possible benefits and potential risks of using natural remedies for eye health.
Potential Benefits of Castor Oil for the Eyes
The use of castor oil for eye conditions has roots in traditional natural medicine. Castor oil is a common treatment in homeopathic and naturopathic medicine.
It is used as a household treatment for numerous conditions, such as these:
- Lubricate dry eyes
- Reduce inflammation and irritation
- Improve circulation and prevent infection
- Boost the health of eyelashes
- Increase comfort and reduce tear film evaporation
- Increase hydration and reduce the appearance of undereye wrinkles
New studies from New Zealand show that castor oil may be useful in improving blepharitis, a condition involving inflammation of the eyelid. Symptoms showed significant improvement during a four-week period of treatment.
Castor Oil for Cataracts
There are controversy and ongoing discussion about the effectiveness of castor oil in treating cataracts.
There are reports on anecdotal usage of castor oil as an aid in lubrication. The properties of this oil may help improve the appearance of the eyelid as well as the health and luster of eyelashes.
As a result of these properties, castor oil eye drops may be used in combination with homeopathic remedies to improve some cataract symptoms, such as to decrease dry eyes and improve blood circulation.
Naturopathic medicine may employ castor oil in combination with other treatments to foster vision health.
According to the American Academy of Ophthalmology, the only proven treatment for cataracts is surgery. Any claims that castor oil eye drops can cure or improve cataracts are unfounded. Though they could potentially improve some symptoms of cataracts, the only approved treatment for cataracts is surgery.
How to Use Castor Oil Eye Drops
If you are seeing a holistic physician, you can talk to your doctor about using castor oil eye drops. While it won’t replace your need for surgery, it may potentially lessen symptoms until you get surgery.
Common recommendations include applying one to three drops in each eye. After applying, allow the eyes to absorb the oil while gently massaging each eye with a clean hand. Use a paper towel to gently remove any excess oil.
Be sure to never use regular castor oil, as it is non-sterile and not intended for application in the eye.
When Not to Use Castor Oil Eye Drops
According to the American Academy of Ophthalmology, it is advisable to not use castor oil if you meet the following conditions:
- Have known allergies to castor oil
- Are wearing contacts
- Have had recent surgery
- Have a serious eye condition
Be sure to not use castor oil if you have an adverse reaction, such as redness, irritation, or blurry vision. If you experience swelling, itching, or infection, discontinue use or do not initiate use.
If you have been experimenting with castor oil eye drops, continue to evaluate your experience. It is common to have a little blurriness in your vision, itchiness, or swelling. However, take note if you find that symptoms increase.
Immediately stop use of castor oil if you have feelings of nausea, difficulty breathing, or dizziness.
There is no scientific evidence to support the efficacy of castor oil in treating cataracts.
There is anecdotal evidence that castor oil can effectively lubricate the skin, and castor oil eye drops may have some benefits, such as antibacterial and antimicrobial properties, but there is no medical data that supports castor oil eye drops to prevent or treat cataracts.
There is some evidence that castor oil may irritate the eyes.
Castor oil is not medically approved, and it is important to realize that individuals respond to it in different ways. Since it is not medically recommended, it’s wise to investigate and consider alternatives. To verify your treatment options, talk with your ophthalmologist.
If you choose to use castor oil eye drops, take safe hygiene precautions. Wash your hands to ensure a clean application.
Look for a product that contains castor oil, such as an artificial tear or eye drop product. Again, do not apply non-sterile castor oil to the eye.
Alternative Treatments for Cataracts
Surgery is the only method that can effectively treat cataracts. The cataract is removed along with the natural lens and a synthetic lens (intraocular lens) is put in its place. The removal of the cataract allows for the restoration of vision.
Still, there are ongoing efforts to find alternative and homeopathic treatments for cataracts.
Natural alternatives for preventing cataracts include studies of medicinal plants and natural products that affect the biochemical process that may lead to cataract formation.
Homeopathic medicine was developed over 200 years ago and uses uniquely different diagnostics than traditional medicine to treat individuals. According to the National Center for Complementary and Integrative Health, there is little scientific evidence to support the efficacy of homeopathy.
Oral ingestion of aniseed and coriander oil has been reported by some to help with cataracts. And there is an ongoing search for other homeopathic and nonsurgical approaches to treating cataracts. Further research is needed.
If you are looking for natural treatments to help in cataract prevention, consider talking with a homeopath or naturopath. Be sure to consult with your ophthalmologist to understand how natural products may affect your eye health and vision.
Castor Oil Eye Drops for Cataracts FAQs
Will castor oil dissolve cataracts?
There is no medical data that shows castor oil dissolves cataracts.
Is it safe to put castor oil in your eyes?
According to the American Academy of Ophthalmology, castor oil is a non-sterile substance and not recommended for use in the eye. You can use castor oil eye drops, which are different than standard castor oil.
What are the benefits of castor oil for the eyes?
Castor oil has some anti-inflammatory and antimicrobial properties that can aid in eye lubrication. Some eye drops feature castor oil as an ingredient.
Can I cure cataracts with castor oil?
No, there is no cure for cataracts. A cataract can be removed and vision restored through cataract surgery.
Study Shows Castor Oil in Artificial Tear Decreases Evaporation, Increases Comfort. (November 2012). Primary Care Optometry News.
Castor Oil & Age-Related Cataract – A Case for Therapeutic Order. (May 2018). Naturopathic Doctor News & Review.
Study: Castor Oil May Improve Blepharitis. (May 2020). Review of Optometry, Review of Cornea & Contact Lenses.
What Is Blepharitis? American Academy of Ophthalmology.
Medicinal Plants and Natural Products Used for Cataracts. (June 2019) Frontiers of Pharmacology.
Are There Any Real Benefits to Using Castor Oil on Your Skin? (January 2022). SELF.
Homeopathy: What You Need to Know. National Center for Complementary and Integrative Health.
The Quest for Homeopathic and Nonsurgical Cataract Treatment. (January 2020). Current Opinion in Ophthalmology.
Is It Safe to Put Castor Oil in My Eyes? (March 2022) American Academy of Ophthalmology.
Real-World Visual Outcomes of Cataract Surgery Based on Population-Based Studies: A Systematic Review. (April 2022). British Journal of Ophthalmology.
Last Updated June 8, 2022
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