Manuka honey has well-known medicinal properties and has gained acceptance in wound care in the treatment of chronic ulcers and burns. Who would have thought that it could be used as an eye drop (Optimel™ Manuka Eye Drops)?
For sufferers of some forms of dry eyes and blepharitis, this new product has been a revelation. I have been using it selectively on patients for the past year with great success. Even my mother-in-law uses it daily.
Why does it work so well?
Interestingly, Manuka honey has anti-bacterial and anti-inflammatory properties. It is also fairly viscous, the most viscous of any of the honeys, but has the benefit of “thixotropy”, it flows well when it needs to, before returning to its thick, viscous state. As an eye drop, it seems to form a smooth protective coating across the eye surface.
The downside is that it stings so much (for about 30 seconds) it will bring tears to your eye. For dry eye patients who have this feeling constantly throughout the day, it’s a small price to pay for symptomatic relief.
The stinging occurs because it is naturally hypertonic. This property is useful for patients with Fuch’s endothelial dystrophy, bullous keratopathy and post-operative cornea oedema. Optimel™ has also been helpful in patients with herpetic eye disease and allergic eye disease.
Patients can try it during a normal eye consultation with me, to see if it suits them. Most patients prefer to use it once or twice a day. Some of these patients have needed hourly artificial tears for years to maintain the same level of eye comfort that Optimel™ affords them. It is becoming more widely available in the community, with some specialist optometrists selling it and it is available at the front reception of Queensland Eye Instititute and does not require a prescription.
So that’s the buzz about honey eye drops.