Put Honey in Your Eyes?
Last updated: April 2023
“Put honey in your eyes?” That was my initial response as I read on a dry eye forum about other people’s experiences using Manuka Honey Eye Gel by Optimel. I imagined a sticky mess oozing from my eyes and wondered how it might feel.
But I’ve been willing to try just about anything to relieve my symptoms. And the more I read about the gel and drops made from honey, the more I realized they might be beneficial for me.
Turning to Manuka honey
My eyes are extremely itchy, and I’ve often wondered if my chronic dry eye has an allergy-related component contributing to it. I’ve read that allergy eye drops can be drying, resulting in a Catch 22 situation: Relieve the itching, yet exacerbate the dry eye. So people who suffer from allergy-related dry eye are left with few options; however, Manuka honey is one.
And it makes sense for this reason: according to a study published in Frontiers in Pharmacology, “Therapeutic properties of honey such as anti-microbial, anti-inflammatory, anti-cancer and wound healing have been widely reported," and some studies have talked about how honey can potentially be used to manage allergic diseases. Plus, my family has used Manuka honey before to treat minor wounds such as spider bites and infections.
How it felt for me
Manuka honey is produced in New Zealand by a special type of bee from the nectar of Manuka tree flowers. Its antibacterial activity is higher than non-Manuka honey because of its higher phenolic and methylglyoxal content.1
In using the Optimel gel made from Manuka honey, I initially tried dropping it into my eyes, but that didn’t work so well. What I’ve been doing since is putting a small amount on the end of a Q-tip and gently rubbing it inside my lower lids. It stings horribly for about 15 seconds but then is very soothing. If I use too much, my eyes do feel sticky, but I’ve found just a small amount works fine.
Getting into a routine
At first I used the gel randomly, but I’ve gotten into a routine of using it nightly before I go to bed. My eyes are much less itchy during the day now, so I do think that part of my dry eye issues are allergy-related.
I am also very careful not to rub my eyes, because that can make them worse. Instead, I apply a cold compress to relieve itchiness. I can see that, over time, Manuka honey has been vital to getting my eyes under control.
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