‘Eye disease’ is the broadly used term to define illness related to parts of the eye or the system as a whole. Their extent may vary and damages caused may be major or minor depending on their effect on the cells and vision.

By the age of 40, most people undergo a characteristic change in their vision. They may be near sighted or far sighted. There are various gifts of nature available to keep our eyes healthy. Manuka honey is one such gift.

What is Manuka Honey?

Manuka honey is a honey produced in New Zealand. It derives its name from the fact that the honey is made by bees which pollinate Manuka bushes.

This honey has the highest anti-microbial activity in among all the kinds of honey in the world and has been used for its medicinal benefits for thousands of years. This honey is available in many forms, raw, pasteurized, filtered, and unfiltered, comb liquid (edible beeswax inside) form and whipped.

8 Surprising Benefits of Manuka Honey for Eye Health

Regular honey is renowned for its immunity boosting capabilities. The nutrient profile of Manuka honey is believed to be almost 4 times that of regular honey.

This is often called the ‘Unique Manuka Factor’ i.e. the UMF. UMF provides a global standard for assessing the quality of the honey.

It is also believed to attribute the high enzymatic activity to the superfood. This strain of honey is packed with compounds like hydrogen peroxide, methylglyoxal and dihydroxyacetone.

While the hydrogen peroxide in most other honey types can be denatured easily by exposure to temperature variations, the UMF of Manuka honey imparts stability to the hydrogen peroxide and is chiefly responsible for its several therapeutic effects.

There is increasing scientific evidence that Manuka honey has healing properties for ailments of the eye. The many nutrients present in it could be the cause of this property. Here we explore some of the studies and their outcomes in treating eye diseases and maintaining optic health.

Manuka Honey for Eye Health

1. Manuka honey benefits dry eyes

Dry eyes is a common eye condition characterized by dry, red irritable eyes. It is common among people who wear contact lenses and post-menopausal women.

The main symptoms include discomfort and oversensitivity on exposure to light. Lack of moisture is the chief cause of dry eyes. It is most commonly treated using lubricated chemical eye drops. Manuka honey can provide a natural solution for this problem.

A study conducted on patients with dry eye showed that when a 20% solution of Manuka honey was used on the eye it effectively healed the eye and showed positive effects on the cornea. It has proved to be more useful when compared to even artificial tears.

What does this mean?
Manuka honey is an excellent natural moisturiser and also has deep penetrating and cleansing properties. It can be used as a natural remedy to treat dry eyes and cleanse the eyes. It maintains the moisture levels in the cornea.

2. Manuka Honey protects from infections

Manuka honey is known to work actively against the bacterial and viral activity. It is therefore highly useful in protecting the eye from environmental infections.

Academic research conducted to evaluate the antimicrobial properties of the honey has determined that there is a unique component which imparts the strong anti-microbial properties to it. This agent acts against microbes in a manner that has not been previously studied.

What does this mean?
Manuka honey has a distinctive nutrient profile and its high anti-microbial properties can be effective in treating infections such as pink or red eye or common eye irritations.

3. Manuka honey boosts antioxidant defenses

Antioxidants are compounds whose main function is to fight against the toxic free radicals developing in the body. Free radicals alter cellular mechanisms and are catalytic in the process of aging.

This causes loss of vision and leads to near and far sightedness. It may also cause glaucoma and slowly deteriorate optical activity. Exposure to environmental factors such UV radiation may also activate free radicals and cause damage to the cells of the eye.

Antioxidants are required to maintain a regular check on free radicle levels in the body. Manuka honey is loaded with antioxidant compounds. They repair damaged cells and promote the growth of new ones.

What does this mean?
Manuka honey is rich in antioxidant compounds which eliminate free radicals and prevent aging of cells in the eye. It blocks free radicals and does not allow them to form in the future.

4. Manuka honey reduces inflammation

Inflammation is generally characterized by the unproliferative growth of cells. Manuka honey is well known for its ability to block immune cell migration thereby providing relief to inflamed areas.

This is regulated by the plant secondary metabolite, bioflavonoids. This property makes it useful in the treatment of irritations in the eye which could be damaging.

Its use as an eye drop has been studied and commercialized. It is a commonly used medicine in cases of cornea inflammation and several other infections.

What does this mean?
By restricting the cell mechanisms causing inflammation, Bioflavanoids in Manuka honey provides relief to infected regions. It repairs damage in cells and restricts their unmonitored growth.

6. Manuka honey provides essential nutrients for eye health

Maunka honey is loaded with a variety of vitamins and minerals. It contains metallic compounds like copper, iron, zinc, and potassium which regulate cell mechanisms and transport of compounds.

The Vitamins B and C are also available in abundance. These vitamins are often referred to as eye antioxidants. They are water soluble and are often found in the fluid surrounding the eye

What does this mean?
These compounds are important for monitoring cell growth mechanisms in the eye. They monitor internal growth factors and ensure that all the nutrient requirements of the eye are met. They are therefore in charge of ensuring good and steady vision.

7. Manuka honey benefits in conjunctivitis

Conjunctivitis is a highly contagious eye disease. It is caused by bacterial or viral infections. It can occur in individuals of all ages most commonly in young children.

It is characterized by an inflamed conjunctiva i.e. the outer layer of the eye. It is sometimes referred to as pink eye. The eye becomes red and extremely itchy. It produces a lot of mucus that leads to swelling of the eyes. It can sometimes cement the eyelids together during sleep.

The eye becomes red and extremely itchy. It produces a lot of mucus that leads to swelling of the eyes. It can sometimes cement the eyelids together during sleep.

Manuka honey has excellent antimicrobial properties and therefore provides a cheap and effective cure for conjunctivitis. It soothes swelling through its anti-inflammatory properties and combats pathogens harming the eye. A compound called methylglyoxal controls these activities. Several clinical trials have indicated that its use in the eye is safe.

A compound called methylglyoxal controls these activities. Several clinical trials have indicated that its use in the eye is safe.

What does this mean?
Through its microbicidal and anti-inflammatory effects, methylglyoxal heals eyes infected by bacteria and viruses that cause conjunctivitis. Therefore, Manuka honey is a potent natural remedy for the same.

8. Manuka honey aids in post-operative healing of the eye

After surgery, the site of incision requires a great amount of attention and care.

This is to ensure that there is no swelling or infection that may retard the healing process or damage cells. Taking good care of the site is essential. It would limit the damage, allow for faster recovery and reduce pain.

Manuka honey provides a viable surgery healing agent. Several laboratory studies validate its efficacy.

Its antibacterial activity prevents further infection and its high viscosity maintains the moisture content of the site. It has immunomodulatory properties due to the action of non-peroxide components in it.

What does this mean?
The highly viscous Manuka honey forms a protective barrier around the eye while maintaining its moisture content. It, therefore, prevents further infection which hydrating the incision sites. Through this activity, non-peroxide components in Manuka honey helps speed up the post-operative healing process.

Dosage of Manuka Honey For Eye Health

Manuka honey can be used in one’s diet as a preventive agent for diseases or can be directly applied at the site of injury.

For edible honey, there is no fixed dosage. The recommended quantities are around 1 teaspoon 2-3 times daily. It can be consumed directly or mixed in cold or warm water.

In the case of eye diseases and infections, external application of diluted honey is advisable.

This can be done mixing equal parts of honey in sterile distilled water. This can be used as an eye drop.2-3 drops of this solution can be applied to each eye about 3 times a day until the infection clears off. It is used to treat pink and red eye.

An eye compress of Manuka honey can also be prepared by mixing 3 tablespoons of the honey with 2 cups of boiling water. This can be applied on the lower eyelids in small amounts.

It is best to consult a health practitioner before using manuka honey for external applications to the eye. It is very important to make use of medical quality honey in such a case.

Oral consumption of manuka honey is the best way to reap benefits for eye health.

Precautions

UMF factor of the honey should be checked before use as its purity and potency is of great importance when using in case of disease treatment.

At high temperatures, the components in the honey may get denatured and thus dissolution in hot water may corrupt the honey.

In order to ensure that an individual is not allergic to the substance, a patch test would be suitable. This should be done at least 48 hours prior to Manuka honey consumption. People who are sensitive to bees and pollen would likely be allergic to the honey as well.

In children below the age of 1 year, Manuka honey may cause botulism poisoning and could be highly toxic.
Diabetic patients can consume the honey as long as their blood sugar levels are constantly monitored.

Conclusion

Considering its many benefits Manuka honey is sometimes called the ‘Medical honey.

It special UMF factor is responsible for its anti-inflammatory and microbicidal effects. It can heal eye diseases while boosting the immunity of the cells.

It’s therapeutic ability is highly underrated and it needs to be more commercialized. This natural remedy needs to more scientific insight to be used to its full potential.

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