Castor Oil for Dry Eyes Treatment - Complete Guide
Castor Oil has been used externally as well as internally since ages in many different cultures. In ancient Egypt, it was used to protect the eyes from irritation, dried by the harsh conditions of the desert sun and sand. It is reported that Cleopatra used castor oil to brighten the whites of her eyes. In Ayurveda, the ancient Indian medical science, castor oil also known as Gandharvahasta / Eranda taila / Arandi Tel is used in a variety of health conditions ranging from skin and hair growth treatments to treating vaginal irritations and yeast infections.
Castor Oil is extracted from the castor seeds (Ricinus Communis) and is pale yellow in appearance. It is a highly viscous and foul-tasting liquid. The most common use of castor oil is to promote elimination (it is a powerful laxative) and to heal tissues deep under the skin. It has wonderful anti-inflammatory and anti-microbial properties. But before rushing off to put this miracle oil into your eyes, be aware that some people get severe allergic reaction to castor oil so you should be very cautious if you are using it for the first time. Understand the underlying cause of your dry eyes and its various symptoms and then treat your dry eyes carefully.
Dry Eyes Symptoms
Dry eyes are very common with almost 50% of the population experiencing some symptoms of dry eyes at some point in their life. People with dry eyes report one or all of the following symptoms -
- Red, itchy, stingy or burning eyes.
- Stringy (like a very thin thread) mucus in / around eyes.
- Eyes sensitive to light, wind or smoke.
- Heavy and fatigued eyes.
- A sensation of having something in eyes.
- Blurry eyes.
Causes of Dry Eyes - Castor Oil a Panacea
Dry eyes are a result of lack of adequate lubrication and moisture in the eyes. An adequate layer of tears on the surface of the eye is essential to keep our eyes healthy. A tear film consists of three components:
- Oil - provides lubrication and keeps tear film from evaporating too soon.
- Water - provides moisture.
- Mucus - helps spread the tears evenly on the eye surface.
Each tear component is produced by different glands and underfunctioning of any of the glands can result in dry eyes. For eg., if meibomian glands which produce oily component are underfunctioning then the tear film gets evaporated too soon resulting in dry eyes. This condition is called as 'meibomian gland dysfunction' and it is a predominant factor in many cases of dry eye syndrome. Other common factors are -
Staring too long on a computer / mobilescreen and not blinking enough.
Some illnesses like - Viral infections, Diabetes, Arthritis, Hormonal imbalance, Sjogren’s syndrome, Thyroid problems and Vitamin A deficiency.
Contact lenses and eye surgeries.
Certain medicines like antidepressants, Antihistamines, etc.
But whatever be the cause of your dry eyes there is one natural and inexpensive home remedy that works wonders with all kinds of dry eyes - Castor Oil. A scientific research carried out in 2002 establishes the efficiency of castor oil in treating dry eyes.
How Castor Oil Cures Dry Eyes ?
The main component of Castor oil is a fatty acid named Ricinoleic acid which has amazing anti-microbial properties that help in keeping the eyes infection free. The thickness and stickiness of the castor oil, attributed to the presence of Ricinoleic acid, helps in providing adequate lubrication and coating to the tear film thus preventing eyes from getting dried.
The antimicrobial, anti-inflammatory, and even immune stimulant properties of castor oil are continually being proven as scientists are conducting more and more studies on the effects of castor oil.
Apart from Ricinoleic Acid, the other fatty acids present in castor oil are Omega fatty acids which help in retaining moisture and keeping the eyes well hydrated. These fatty acids have the ability to relieve the irritation and inflammation caused by dry eyes. Vitamin E present in the castor oil acts as an anti-oxidant and prevents eye fatigue and helps restore health and vigor in the eyes.
Castor Oil in Dry Eye Cure - How to Apply
Castor Oil helps with just about any eye problem, including glaucoma and cataracts. It will help in lubricating the cornea, reducing eye strain and irritation. But for some people it might create side effects such as - puffed up eyes, swelling, redness, etc. So be cautious in using it for the first time.
Use only Pure, Hexane Free, Cold Pressed Castor Oil. The processing and refining of castor oil can degrade the oil making it less effective or sometimes harmful. So it is best to use unrefined and cold pressed castor oil as cold pressed castor oil retains most of its nutrients, and doesn’t lose its important medicinal value or hair care properties.
Test for any side-effects - Start gradually. Don't apply the oil directly around the eye the first time, rather make use of a cotton ball dipped in castor oil. Apply the cotton ball on upper eyelid before bed. Do this for 2-3 days. If no side effects and eyes feeling better you can then apply the oil directly around the eye. Dont put oil directly inside the eye initially. Do this for a week and observe the effects.
One drop at bedtime - Do this only after doing the step 2 for a week or so. Take a clean eye dropper and place one tiny drop in the corner of each eye before going to sleep. Let the oil seep into the middle of your eyes from the corners. Roll your eyes before closing them. Rub any excess oil over the eyelids and around the eye. You might feel a slight burning sensation and blurred vision when putting castor oil drop directly in the eye. This sensation should go away soon. If it does not go away even after an hour or so, stop using castor oil any further for your eyes. You might also wake up with cloudy eyes but they should clear up within few minutes. Do this for a week and notice the effects.
Thats it. Wishing you gleaming and glowing eyes!