Researchers investigate potential of castor oil in dry eye management

New Zealand scientists have tested the effects of cold-pressed castor oil in the treatment of blepharitis

A glass bottle containing oil sits on a white table. Beside the oil in the background there are white blossoms.

University of Auckland researchers have tested the effects of castor oil in the management of blepharitis.

As part of their research, a group of 26 patients with blepharitis were treated with cold-pressed castor oil over a period of four weeks.

The castor oil, which was enhanced with mānuka and kanuka oils, was applied using a roller ball attached to a small glass bottle.

The study participants had a measurable improvement in symptoms – including reduced lid margin redness, decreased thickening of the eyelid, reduced eyelid crusting and reduced bacterial profusion.

The researchers are now recruiting 92 participants for a double-blind, randomised and placebo-controlled trial.

University of Auckland doctoral candidate and lead clinical investigator, Catherine Jennings, shared that existing products for the management of blepharitis, including antibacterials and anti-inflammatories, are generally unsuitable for long-term use due to significant side effects and the potential for antimicrobial resistance.

“Often patients are left feeling helpless when attempting to manage a chronic condition,” Jennings said.

Professor Jennifer Craig, of Auckland University, shared that the ultimate goal of the study is to improve quality of life for patients with dry eye symptoms.

“Castor oil has been proposed as a natural product that could offer a safe, effective and easy-to-use alternative to existing therapies,” she said.

“My hope is this study will produce evidence-based guidance for clinicians with regard to offering castor oil as a possible management option for patients suffering from blepharitis,” Craig shared.