Doctors warn against TikTok trend of rubbing castor oil in eyes

Ah, another new TikTok trend. Is anyone else feeling fatigued by the sheer volume of content on the internet these days?

This time, TikTokers are using castor oil on their eyes to treat vision problems – but like many of these fads, it’s best avoided due to a number of potential complications.

Castor oil is a vegetable oil pressed from castor beans and has a colourless or pale yellow appearance. Rich in medicinal uses, it has been used by humans for millennia, including in ancient Egypt where it was commonly taken to stimulate labour during pregnancy.

The substance is also a natural laxative, has moisturising properties, and can promote wound healing.

It’s also an ingredient in many over-the-counter eye drops, but creators on social media have been applying it differently, rubbing it on their lids and lashes in an effort to deal with dryness, floaters, cataracts, poor vision and even glaucoma.

However, doctors have warned that using castor oil on your eyelids in this way is, in fact, counterproductive, with one telling Sky News that it is ‘not going to seep in and dissolve or fix anything.’

#stitch with @maggieroseadvocate #floatersineyes #eyefloaters #castoroil #eyedoctor #ophthalmologist

Castor oil is useless for conditions that impact the inside of the eyeball, like cataracts – when the lens develops cloudy patches that can cause blurry vision – floaters, and glaucoma, a condition where the optic nerve becomes damaged, usually caused by a build-up of fluid.

In fact, ignoring early symptoms of eye conditions like glaucoma with home remedies such as this can actually cause symptoms to worsen, increasing the likelihood of long-term effects such as vision loss.

And as well as being unable to heal the eyes, unsterilised bottles could cause irritation or even infection if used directly. So if you do use this oil for moisturising around your eyes, ensure you choose a variety that’s suitable.

Dr Ashley Brissette, a spokesperson for the American Academy of Ophthalmology, said: ‘Castor oil is not a cure-all. If you have concerns about your eyes, you need to see an optician.’

Meanwhile, Vicki Chan MD also expressed disbelief at the trend, highlighting that using it externally would not help conditions that occur inside the eyeball.

Replying to @MYOB PLEASE #castoroil #castoroilbenefit #eyeeducation

‘Does castor oil help floaters? I would have to professionally disagree’, she states in a TikTok video, responding to claims from one user that hers disappeared just five days after implementing castor oil into her daily beauty routine.

‘Floaters are actually little proteins that are floating inside the vitreous jelly inside your eye.

‘And if you’re going to say castor oil helps those, number one it would have to penetrate the eye and get into that gel, and number two, it would have to dissolve protein, both of which castor oil does not do.’

Dr Chan argued that either the woman’s brain had become used to the floaters and begun to notice them less, or that they’d floated outside of her line of vision – nothing to do with the ‘hack’ whatsoever.

So, there you have it: plastering castor oil onto your eyelids effectively achieves nothing. Nada. Zilch. Visit the optician if you’re concerned about an ocular issue, but keep TikTok trends out of your sight.

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