Doctors have issued a warning not to use castor oil as a way to treat vision problems following claims on TikTok.
Castor oil is a type of vegetable oil traditionally used to treat a range of issues like skin infections. It is even a common ingredient in some over-the-counter eye drops.
But dozens of TikTok videos have gone one step further, claiming that by rubbing the oil over eyelids, eyelashes and under the eye, it helps to treat dryness, floaters, cataracts, poor vision and even glaucoma.
One woman said that after two weeks of use, she doesn’t need to wear reading glasses as often, while another said it prevented an eye infection from progressing.
Now, doctors in the US have said the oil is “not going to seep in and dissolve or fix anything”.
They warned that some unsterilised bottles on shop shelves may even cause irritation or infection if put directly into the eye.
“Castor oil is not a cure-all. If you have concerns about your eyes, you need to see an optician,” Dr Ashley Brissette, a spokesperson for the American Academy of Ophthalmology.
She said they cannot make recommendations as studies that look at the effects of eye drops which contain castor oil on dry eyes and blepharitis are of low quality, involving small sample sizes and no control groups.
Dr Vicki Chan, a practising optician in Los Angeles added that castor oil has no effect on conditions that affect the inside of the eyeball.
These include cataracts – an age-related condition that causes cloudy vision – floaters, and glaucoma, which occurs when fluid accumulates and damages the optic nerve.
Dr Brissette added that ignoring early symptoms of glaucoma, or waiting to see it castor oil improves conditions such as cataract, can lead to permanent vision loss or complications with surgery.
Instead, eating a healthy balanced diet; removing all make up before bed; wearing sunglasses outdoors and attending regular eye examinations are alternative ways to maintain eye health.