Close your eyes and try navigating the world for a day, an hour, or even 5 minutes. Going without sight is a challenge and one that you can limit, if not entirely avoid. However, with age, the risk factors for age-related vision problems and macular degeneration are more prevalent and need to be addressed by proper diet, exercise, and these special essential oils.
Vision Problems From Age-Related Macular Degeneration
Age-related macular degeneration (AMD) starts near your retina at the back of your eye, which is responsible for sending light to the brain to be interpreted into the images we see. The problem occurs when there is a build up of yellow deposits in the macula. They start to interfere with the macula’s ability to pick up light, causing distortion and scarring that can permanently blind you. [i]
In addition to the build up of these deposits, blood vessels can grow abnormally large and start leaking into your eye which also causes distortion and blindness. [i]
This macular degeneration is the most common way to lose your vision and experience blindness after 60, and it also affects 30% of people over 70. Luckily, there are ways you can start limiting the risk factors as there isn’t a known cure for it at this time. [ii]
Ways to Limit Vision Problems
The main risk factors that contribute to vision problems are age, genetics, UV damage, and smoking. However, we can only control two of these, so two of the best ways to help prevent vision degeneration is to always wear sunglasses when outdoors — especially with high or direct UV light — and to quit smoking (plus there are so many more reasons to quit).[i]
One study found that you could limit vision loss is by eating certain nutrients and minerals. A study on eye-related diseases found that high intake of Vitamin C, Vitamin E, beta-carotene, zinc, and copper reduces the risk of vision problems in individuals with intermediate and advanced AMD by 25%.[iii] The daily amount of each vitamin and mineral used in this study is as follows: [i]
400 international units of vitamin E
80 mg zinc as zinc oxide (25 mg in AREDS2)
2 mg copper as cupric oxide
15 mg beta-carotene, OR 10 mg lutein and 2 mg zeaxanthin
Unsalted nuts and seeds
Regular exercise is also always recommended to keep your cardiovascular system in tip-top shape. [i]
In addition to practicing a good overall lifestyle, using essential oils could be a natural remedy to help eye health.
Sandalwood, Juniper Oil, and Oils for Good Eye Health
Essential oils are a bastion of benefits as Dr. Terry Friedmann found out in 1997. After doing a study on himself, he said goodbye to his glasses. He rubbed sandalwood, and juniper oil around his eyes and cheeks, which he believes were the primary cause of his recovery. [ii]
And while this case study was anecdotal, and so are many others, essential oils are suspected of offering benefits that natural health aficionados and scientists need to start exploring.
Sandalwood Essential Oil
Instead, try using this oil and all of its benefits by applying it around your eyes.
In a very preliminary trial, sandalwood has been shown to promote wound healing by signaling skin cell production through smelling of the oil. This happens because, like our noses, the skin has olfactory receptors which can detect certain smells. When these receptors are stimulated, they begin to heal a wound. [v]
One study found that mice also have olfactory receptors in their eyes and humans might also. [vi] Dr. Friedmann might have experienced some improvements due to aromatherapy on his eyes which were stimulated by sandalwood, like sandalwood’s effect on skin regeneration.
Sandalwood is also suspected of helping with muscle problems as well as the common cold, urinary tract infections, liver problems, and digestive problems although more research need to be done on this essential oil to know how significant its benefits are. [iv]
NOTE: Never use them on your eye or eyelid as they can cause irritation and damage.
They have both antioxidative effects, and anti-inflammatory effects to help limit the effects of free radicals and further damage in the eyes. [vii]
A study from Tunisia found that the chemical makeup of juniper berries can be useful for protecting the brain and blood vessels from diseases. This could be significant information as a key cause of age-related macular degeneration is the expansion of blood vessels at the back of the eye which leak into the macula. [viii]
Juniper oil can also help with circulation to keep new healthy blood flowing through the eye. While also helping with pain relief such arthritis, and other pain showing some very obvious health benefits. [ix]
NOTE: Never use them on your eye or eyelid as they can cause irritation and damage.
Other Essential Oils
While age-related macular degeneration is common in older adults, preliminary anecdotal evidence shows there are many eye problems that could potentially be helped with an arrangement of different oils (note, these are different from essential oils).
Flaxseed oil – filled with omega-3s it can help with dry, burning, or red eyes, as well as vision problems by decreasing the incidence of cataracts and macular degeneration. However, more research needs to be done. [x]
Lavender and Lemon Oil – have been found to treat styes and inflammation of the eyes. It also calms and heals the area around the eyes, but still, needs more testing to determine whether it can treat eye disorders. [x]
How to Use Essential Oils
Essential oils involve a very high concentration of natural chemicals found in plants and require some care when using them.
Use 2-3 drops in a carrier oil like coconut or almond oil.
Never use them on your eye or eyelid as they can cause irritation and damage. Just apply to the socket around your eye.
Don’t use water to get oils out of your eye as it could spread the oils around and cause more damage, instead use another oil.
While these theories are very preliminary, we would be interested to see more research on the effects of essential oils, and their potentially promising opportunities for health benefits.
This information is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment and is for information only. Essential oils are very highly concentrated and potent and it is important to always check the specific safety data provided. Keep out of reach of children, the elderly, and pets. For external use only. Avoid contact with mucus membranes and eyes. If any essential oils have contacted your eye, wash out with a vegetable oil such as olive oil, not water.
Some oils may cause skin irritation in people with sensitive skin. It is recommended to perform a patch test before use. To patch test, place one drop on the back of your wrist and leave for an hour or more. If irritation or redness occurs wash the area with olive oil then cold water and do not use the oil.
We do not recommend the ingestion of essential oils except while under the care and direction of a qualified health practitioner.
[i] Facts About Age-Related Macular Degeneration | National Eye Institute. Neinihgov. Available at: https://nei.nih.gov/health/maculardegen/armd_facts. Accessed May 17, 2017.
[ii] Essential Oils Desk Reference. 1st ed.; 2011:5.63. Available at: http://wildessentialoils.com/pdf/eodr/ailments/epstein-barr.pdf. Accessed May 17, 2017.
[iii] A Randomized, Placebo-Controlled, Clinical Trial of High-Dose Supplementation With Vitamins C and E, Beta Carotene, and Zinc for Age-Related Macular Degeneration and Vision Loss. Archives of Ophthalmology. 2001;119(10):1417. doi:10.1001/archopht.119.10.1417.
[iv] Butler N. 13 Foods That Are Good for High Blood Pressure. Healthline. 2017. Available at: http://www.healthline.com/health/foods-good-for-high-blood-pressure. Accessed May 17, 2017.
[v] Busse D, Kudella P, Grüning N et al. A Synthetic Sandalwood Odorant Induces Wound-Healing Processes in Human Keratinocytes via the Olfactory Receptor OR2AT4. jidonline. 2014. Available at: http://www.jidonline.org/article/S0022-202X(15)36538-6/fulltext#s0045. Accessed May 17, 2017.
[vi] Pronin A, Levay K, Velmeshev D, Faghihi M, Shestopalov V, Slepak V. Expression of Olfactory Signaling Genes in the Eye. PLoS ONE. 2014;9(4):e96435. doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0096435.
[vii] Juniper Uses, Benefits & Dosage – Drugs.com Herbal Database. Drugscom. Available at: https://www.drugs.com/npp/juniper.html. Accessed May 17, 2017.
[viii] Nasri N, Tlili N, Elfalleh W et al. Chemical compounds from Phoenician juniper berries (Juniperus phoenicea). Taylor & Francis Online. 2011.
[ix] Herbal Oil: Juniper Berry Oil Benefits and Uses. Mercolacom. 2017. Available at: http://articles.mercola.com/herbal-oils/juniper-berry-oil.aspx. Accessed May 17, 2017.
[x] Millehan J. Essential Oils for the Eye. LIVESTRONGCOM. 2015. Available at: http://www.livestrong.com/article/184245-essential-oils-for-the-eye/. Accessed May 17, 2017.