The internet is a treasure trove of information, but it’s important to steer clear of the unproven and potentially dangerous remedies that are touted as quick fixes for various eye problems. Let's take a closer look at some of the scariest unproven eye cures that have been talked about on the internet.
Eye yoga is a practice that involves doing a series of eye exercises to improve vision and reduce eye strain. At least one social media influencer has suggested that eye yoga can cure age-related changes in near vision, called presbyopia, or prevent the need for reading glasses.
But there is no scientific evidence to suggest that eye yoga or other alternative practices can cure vision problems or improve eyesight. “Presbyopia is a natural age-related condition, usually starting in one’s 40s, and can’t be cured with essential oils or eye yoga,” says ophthalmologist and Academy member Christopher Starr, MD.
“Presbyopia can only be treated with corrective lenses (such as eyeglasses or contact lenses), surgery or an FDA-approved eyedrop called Vuity, which temporarily improves blurry reading vision caused by presbyopia,” says Dr. Starr.
Essential oils have become popular in recent years as a natural remedy for various eye problems, such as glaucoma. But many essential oils can be dangerous if applied directly to, or around, the eyes.
Tea tree oil may be one exception. Some evidence suggests products containing low concentrations of tea tree oil may help remove Demodex mites from the eyelashes. An overgrowth of these microscopic mites can cause itchy and swollen eyelids, a condition called blepharitis. Ask your ophthalmologist before trying this approach, however. Never use tea tree oil at full strength.
Castor oil is another popular remedy for different eye conditions, such as “dissolving” cataracts or curing eye floaters. However, there is no scientific evidence to support these claims. In fact, putting castor oil directly on the eyes can cause irritation and damage the clear, dome-shaped cornea. And because castor oil is not sterile, using it as eye drops will raise your risk of a dangerous eye infection.
Food coloring is sometimes used as a joke or a dare, but it should never be put on the eyes. Not only can the chemicals in food coloring irritate the eyes, but the colorful drops may also introduce infection-causing bacteria. It’s not worth the risk!
Breast milk has been talked about as a natural remedy for pink eye, but don’t believe the hype. Breast milk is loaded with bacteria that may be good for an infant’s gut but damaging to the eyes. Introducing these bacteria into the eyes can cause a serious, sight-threatening infection that is far more dangerous than pink eye.
Applying a Raw Meat Cold Pack
Putting raw or frozen meat on a black eye might seem soothing, but it can actually make the injury worse. The bacteria on raw meat can cause an infection. And the extreme cold can cause blood vessels to get smaller, which can slow down the healing process. It's safer to use an ice pack or ice cubes wrapped in a clean towel.
Lipliner as Eyeliner
Using lipliner as eye makeup might seem like a creative solution when you’re in a hurry, but it’s not safe. Lipliner isn’t made to be used around the delicate eye area, and doing so can backfire on your beauty routine.
“Bacteria from the mouth can transfer to the eye area and lead to eye irritation and infections,” says ophthalmologist and Academy member Ashley Brissette, MD. If you plan to try this despite the risks, Dr. Brissette recommends cleaning the lipliner tip very well to remove any germs from your mouth that could damage your eyes.
Hairdryer as Eyelash Curler
A viral TikTok video encourages people to curl their eyelashes using a hairdryer on the cool setting. But not only is the process tedious, it comes with risks. The heat from the hairdryer can burn and damage your eyelashes – quite opposite of the desired effect. Forcefully blowing air into the eyes can also cause severe dryness and irritation, says Dr. Brissette: “I would not recommend doing this!”
Beezin – a social media trend that keeps popping back up year after year – encourages people to rub Burt’s Bees menthol- or peppermint-flavored lip balms on their eyelids to feel more alert. The tingling sensation isn’t worth the side effects, however.
“The natural oils in mint lip balms can irritate the eyes,” says Dr. Brissette. “Eyelid skin is very thin, so applying it there can cause redness, irritation and potentially even surface abrasions.”
Other Harmful Things for Your Eyes
In addition to these examples, there are many other unproven remedies that people try to cure different eye problems. Some of the worst things for your eyes include not taking out your contact lenses before going to bed or not taking off your makeup before going to sleep. Tattooing your eyeball is another dangerous trend.
Always ask your ophthalmologist before trying any new eye treatments or remedies. While some natural remedies might help for certain problems, it’s important to make sure that they are safe and supported by scientific evidence.