Researchers from the University of Auckland are currently conducting tests on the use of castor oil as a treatment for dry-eye disease, with encouraging preliminary outcomes.
The University of Auckland researchers are conducting a trial to investigate the use of castor oil as a safe and natural remedy for dry-eye disease, building upon the success of an initial pilot study. Although precise statistics for New Zealand are not currently accessible, it’s estimated that approximately 58 percent of Australians over the age of 50 are affected by dry-eye disease. Factors such as advancing age, menopause, prolonged screen exposure, and wearing contact lenses are known to increase the risk of developing this condition.
Blepharitis stands as the primary culprit behind dry-eye disease, responsible for over 80 percent of reported cases. This condition is chronic in nature and lacks a definitive cure. Catherine Jennings, a doctoral candidate and primary clinical investigator, highlights the dilemma faced by patients who must endure symptoms like dryness, grittiness, and occasionally watery eyes, all of which adversely affect their quality of life and work productivity. Existing treatments, which typically include antibacterials and anti-inflammatories, are often unsuitable for prolonged use due to their notable side effects and the risk of antimicrobial resistance.
“Patients frequently experience a sense of helplessness in their efforts to navigate a chronic condition,” Jennings remarks.
The ongoing trial involves the use of a product that combines cold-pressed castor oil with mānuka and kanuka oils, applied using a rollerball attached to a small glass bottle.
Jennings notes, “Our research team’s previous pilot study was distinctive in its utilization of castor oil in this particular application on the eyelids, with this product not having been previously employed anywhere else globally for the treatment of blepharitis.”
Castor oil is derived from the seeds of the flowering tropical or subtropical shrub known as Riccinus communis. It has a long history of therapeutic use spanning millennia, and in recent times, it has also found application in eye cosmetics and makeup removers.
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