A research group from the University of Auckland is recruiting participants for a study to determine if castor oil can improve tear film and ocular surface quality in dry eye.
Led by Professor Jennifer Craig through the Ocular Surface Laboratory, the project is aimed to “improve life for patients with dry eye disease”. The study is focused on a form of the disease that arises from blepharitis or meibomian gland dysfunction (MGD) that is said to affect up to 30% of the population.
As castor oil is said to have natural antibacterial properties, the researchers are undertaking the project to assess if its application to eyelids improves signs and symptoms of blepharitis compared to saline control in an investigator-masked, parallel group trial, and to fill a notable research gap.
“[Castor oil’s] use dates back as far as the ancient Egyptians, who used it to treat eye irritations, and it is a component in some eye drops today as a supplement for the tear film oil layer,” the researchers said.
“The direct application of castor oil to the eyelid margins is easy and cost-effective and is reported by clinicians to offer benefits in eyelid health and reduce symptoms of blepharitis as well as supplementing the oil layer, however, good quality scientific trials are lacking.”
Eligible participants will be randomised to apply either castor oil or a control solution to the skin, close to the eyelids, twice daily.
The total duration of the trial is six months, with a total of five visits for a duration of up to one hour each where the researchers will measure various aspects of participants’ ocular surface. Participants will be reimbursed with $20 MTA vouchers at each clinic visit attended.
Eligible participants will have symptoms or a previous diagnosis of blepharitis or dry eye disease.
Eligibility is restricted to those who regularly use eye medications, have undergone ocular surgery three months prior, have systemic conditions, are contact lens wearers, and the presence of any ocular disorder that may interfere with the interpretation of the study results.