Health Benefits of Castor Oil Eye Drops

Medically Reviewed by Dan Brennan, MD on October 25, 2021

You may be looking for eye drops if you’re having problems with itchy or irrit ated eyes. One version, drops that use castor oil, have grown in popularity. Castor oil has many healing properties and is used as a holistic eye treatment. Some claim that it eases inflammation and improves lymphatic circulation. 

What Are Castor Oil Eye Drops?

Castor oil is a vegetable oil that comes from castor beans. It’s mainly grown and harvested in Africa, South America, and India. People have been using it for at least 1,400 years. India accounts for over 90% of castor oil exports. 

Castor oil is a source of biodegradable polymers, cosmetics, lubricants, adhesives, coatings, and more. It’s also used in medicine, pharmaceuticals, and biorefineries. Studies have shown that the versatile oil is relatively safe for people. 

Castor oil eye drops can be an organic alternative to typical over-the-counter eye drops.‌

The Benefits of Castor Oil Eye Drops

Castor oil is a versatile compound that may have benefits like: 

‌Meibomian gland dysfunction (MGD). This disorder is a common cause of dry eyes. A low concentration of castor oil eye drops has been shown to treat MGD. They help improve the stability of tears and lipids in your eyes. By thickening the lipid layer, the drops keep your eyes healthy, preventing infection and easing symptoms.

Less tear evaporation. Eye drops with castor oil in them also help improve symptoms of dry eye. The oil reduces tear evaporation, which can make your eyes drier, itchier, and more uncomfortable. Its ability to stabilize tear production helps with overall dryness, too.

‌Medicinal properties. Castor oil has antimicrobial and anti-inflammatory properties that make it safe for your eyes and boost tear film lipids. 

Lasting effects. Another benefit to castor oil eye drops is how long they last. Studies show that they may stay in your eyes up to 4 hours. 

Tips for Using Castor Oil Eye Drops

Using eye drops for the first time can be difficult, especially if you aren’t used to putting things in your eye. First, wash your hands and make sure you have a clean towel handy. Then: 

  • Tilt your head back and place your index finger on the soft spot below your lower lid. Gently pull down. 
  • Look up at the ceiling and squeeze one drop into the pouch formed in your lower lid. 
  • Don’t wipe your eye. Close it and let the eye drop spread out. This will make sure that the drops have been absorbed

If liquid comes out and goes down your face, use the towel to pat it dry. Don’t rub your eyes. If you have a hard time getting the drops into your lower lid by yourself, have someone help you. Or you can try to put the drop in the corner of your eye. 

If you notice side effects like blurry vision, itchiness, or swelling, you may be having an allergic reaction. Other symptoms include: 

Stop using the eye drops right away and call your doctor. Without treatment, a reaction could cause complications with your eyes and eyesight.

Show Sources


American Academy of Ophthalmology: “Lubricating Eye Drops for Dry Eyes.”

California Optometric Association: “Making Dry Eyes Ancient History: Egypt, Mesopotamia, India, China, Greece and Rome.”

Clinical and Experimental Optometry: “Therapeutic potential of castor oil in managing blepharitis, meibomian gland dysfunction and dry eye.”

Glaucoma Research Foundation: “Eye Drop Tips.”

Investigative Ophthalmology & Visual Science: “Effect of castor oil emulsion eyedrops on the tear film.”

Lipid Insights: “Castor Oil: Properties, Uses, and Optimization of Processing Parameters in Commercial Production.”

Naturopathic Doctor News & Reviews: “Castor Oil & Age-Related Cataract - A Case for the Therapeutic Order.”

NCH Healthcare System: “Dry eyes.”

Royal Society Open Science: “Castor oil: a suitable green source of capping agent for nanoparticle syntheses and facile surface functionalization.”

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