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Can rubbing castor oil in your eyes cure eye diseases?

Alternative Health Guru goes viral for claiming false benefits of castor oil

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Claim: A viral WhatsApp forward claims that castor oil can help rid a person of cataracts 

Fact: There is no evidence to support that the use of castor oil can cure cataracts, in fact, castor oil use in your eyes can cause adverse reactions. 

On 7 December 2023, Soch Fact Check was sent a viral WhatsApp forward was sent to Team Soch. The video was of a TikTok reel that showed Australian alternative health influencer, Barbara O’Neill, explaining the health benefits of rubbing castor oil in your eyes. 

In the video, O’Neill states, “There is a way you can get rid of cataracts and that is one drop of castor oil wiped over the eyelid, it’ll go through the lashes the castor oil will penetrate in through the eyelid and also into the eye through the lashes. Castor oil penetrates deeper than any other oil and wherever it penetrates it breaks up unnatural formations, which a cataract is. I’ve had several people get back to me and testify that their cataracts are going by doing the castor oil.”

 

In the video,  O’Neill also claimed that castor oil could cure glaucoma saying, “Glaucoma can also be benefitted by the castor oil on the eye.”

Fact or Fiction?

The claim that castor oil could “break up” and therefore reduce or get rid of cataracts, or treat glaucoma was strongly denied by several medical professionals. University of California Irvine Health (or UCI Health) put out a statement debunking this claim. The press release was titled, “Castor Oil doesn’t belong anywhere near the eyes”, and quoted Dr.Donny W. Suh, a pediatric ophthalmologist, saying, “There is no scientific evidence to support claims made by TikTokers about [castor oil’s] benefits for vision including treatment of cataracts, glaucoma, floaters, presbyopia or other eye problems.”

Dr. Vicki Chan, a practising optician in Los Angeles was reported, by Sky News, stating that castor oil does not affect conditions that affect the inside of the eyeball.

In her video, O’Neill also addressed concerns about the safety of the use of castor oil in the eyes with the response that it was “ridiculous” to think it was unsafe. It was actually “incredibly safe”, “very very safe, it never harms, it never hurts.” 

This too was debunked by doctors. In the press release by UCI Health’s Dr Donny W. Suh also pointed out that the use of castor oil can reduce tear quality, cause eye irritation,  blurred vision, and block the eyes’ lubricant glands resulting in “dry eye”, and allergic reactions. 

Speaking to Sky News about the risks of using castor oil, Dr Ashley Brissette, a spokesperson for the American Academy of Ophthalmology, also added that using castor oil and ignoring early symptoms of glaucoma, or waiting to see if castor oil improves diseases such as cataracts, can lead to permanent vision loss or complications with surgery.

Virality

The TikTok video’s claim went viral on WhatsApp. It was also shared on Facebook here, here, here, and here.

Conclusion: There is no medical evidence to support the use of castor oil to cure eye diseases. Professional medical opinion suggests that the use of castor oil in your eyes can lead to eye infections and a serious delay in the treatment of illnesses. 

To appeal against our fact-check, please send an email to appeals@sochfactcheck.com

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