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Can Rose Water Treat Eye Conditions?

Medically Reviewed by Whitney Seltman, OD on July 20, 2020

You may have heard about the possible health benefits of products made with rose. People have used ingredients from a type called the Damask rose for medical purposes throughout history. Modern studies show that the plant may help treat and prevent disease.

One product made with it is rose water. Manufacturers make it by removing compounds from the flower's leaves.

In traditional Iranian medicine, people use rose water to wash the eyes and get rid of organisms that cause illness. Research shows it may destroy certain germs or stop their growth. In one study, researchers saw the number of bacteria go down as the concentration of rose water went up.

Uses for Damask Rose

A clinical trial showed that a commercial eye drop called Ophthacare made with Damask rose and other herbs could be helpful for several eye conditions.

The flower's anti-infection and anti-inflammatory features seem to make it useful as a treatment for problems like:

Conjunctivitis(pinkeye). You get this when the clear coating on the white part of your eye gets infected or inflamed.

Dry eye. This happens when you don't have enough quality tears to nourish your eyes and moisturize them.

Acute dacryocystitis. You get this condition when the sac that collects your tears becomes infected.

Pterygium and pinguecula. These are growths on the clear coating on the white part of your eye.

Potential Side Effects

The trial that tested Ophthacare also looked for side effects caused by the eye drops but didn't find any.

This doesn't mean that products that have Damask rose in them or rose water alone won't cause side effects.

Anytime your skin meets a substance that you're sensitive to, you could get allergic contact dermatitis. Plants, jewelry, medications, and other items can cause a reaction. You may get an itchy, red rash or swelling and tenderness.

Other symptoms can include:

  • Skin that's dry, cracked, and scaly
  • Bumps and blisters that may ooze and get crusty
  • Burning sensation

If you want to put rose water or other rose-based products in your eyes to treat a condition, talk to your doctor first.

Contact your doctor right away if your eyes start to hurt or seem irritated after you use rose water or other rose products.

WebMD Medical Reference

Sources

SOURCES:

Iranian Journal of Basic Medical Sciences: "Pharmacological Effects of Rosa Damascena."

Journal of Birjand University: "The evaluation of antimicrobial effects of five different brands of rose water, water extract of Rosa damascene in comparison with rose oil."

Journal of Traditional and Complementary Medicine: "Rosa damascena as holy ancient herb with novel applications."

Science Notes: "How to Make Rose Water."

National Library of Medicine: "Evaluation of Ophthacare Eye Drops -- A Herbal Formulation in the Management of Various Ophthalmic Disorders."

Mayo Clinic: "Pink eye (conjunctivitis)," "Cataract surgery," "Contact dermatitis."

American Optometric Association: "Dry Eye."

The College of Optometrists: "Dacryocystitis (acute)."

American Academy of Ophthalmology: "What Is a Pinguecula and a Pterygium (Surfer's Eye)?"

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