Purpose: To evaluate the effects of topical castor oil application to the eyelids on ocular surface and tear film parameters in patients with blepharitis.
Methods: Twenty-six participants (14 females, 12 males; mean ± SD age, 38 ± 21 years) with clinical signs of blepharitis were enrolled in a prospective, investigator-masked, randomized, paired-eye trial. A 100% cold pressed castor oil formulation (Lotus Garden Botanicals, Biddeford, ME, USA) was applied to the eyelids of one eye (randomized), twice daily for 4 weeks. Ocular surface characteristics, symptoms, and tear film parameters were assessed at baseline and day 28.
Results: Baseline measurements did not differ between treated and control eyes (all p > 0.05). A significant reduction in OSDI symptomology score was observed following the four-week treatment period (p = 0.001). Clinical improvements in eyelid margin thickening, telangiectasia, eyelash matting, madarosis, cylindrical dandruff, and lid wiper epitheliopathy were limited to treated eyes (all p < 0.01), while greater decreases in staphylococcal and seborrheic eyelash crusting were observed in treated than control eyes (both p < 0.05). No adverse events were reported during the treatment period.
Conclusion: Topical castor oil application effected significant improvements in ocular surface signs and symptoms in patients with blepharitis. The favourable therapeutic profile would suggest that castor oil demonstrates promise as a potential treatment for blepharitis, and support the conduct of further efficacy trials with longer follow up.
Trial registration number: ACTRN12618000856213.
Keywords: Blepharitis; Castor oil; Demodex; Meibomian gland; Ocular surface; Ricinoleic acid; Tear film.
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