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Can white onions soaked in water improve eyesight, as claimed?

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Claim: A Facebook user claimed that white onions soaked in water can clean the eyes and improve eyesight.

Can white onions soaked in water improve eyesight, as claimed?

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A Facebook user, McMfresh, posted a video on May 23, 2024, claiming that white onions soaked in water can improve vision. He informed viewers to soak a combination of white and red onion (containing a larger amount of white onion) in water for days. Afterwards, persons with weak vision should drink water containing white and red onions in the morning and at night to tackle eye defects like cataracts, glaucoma, short-sightedness, long-sightedness, and myopia.

The post has gathered more than 24,000 reactions, 1,400 comments, and 7,100 reshares. The comment section is predominantly filled with inquiries about the appropriate portion of onion and how long it should be soaked in water.

One Omotayo Akinmusewe said, “Faulty presentation. No clue as to the mix of ingredients and the usage.” Another comment from one Ebere Awogu asked, “Will l filter the  onion water drink, or will l drink everything?”

Other comments asked if warm or cold water is preferable and if the onions should be boiled before usage. However, DUBAWA decided to fact-check the claim because of the issues raised by commenters. 

What causes eye defects? 

The eye, a delicate part of the body system, can experience different medical defects. Myopia (nearsightedness), hyperopia (farsightedness), astigmatism (distorted vision at all distances due to an irregular cornea or lens), presbyopia (an age-related condition that makes focusing on close objects complex), cataracts, and glaucoma, among others, are typical eye conditions prevalent among young and old.

Genetics, ageing, and lifestyle choices generally contribute to eye defects. Environmental influences, such as prolonged UV light exposure and pollution, also play a role. Other medical conditions like diabetes and hypertension impact eye health, while trauma can cause or worsen defects.

Medical experts have emphasised the eye’s delicacy. According to the American Academy of Ophthalmologists (AAO), minor eye injuries and environmental exposures can progress into more serious eye conditions that can significantly impact vision if not adequately addressed. 

Early detection and appropriate treatment are crucial for maintaining good vision and managing eye defects effectively.

Can onions help?

Onions, botanically known as Allium Cepa, are a root vegetable reputable for its health properties. They are high in antioxidants and sulfur-containing compounds, some of which may have several beneficial effects.

The sulfur in onions aids eye health by stimulating the production of a glutathione protein. This antioxidant protein reduces the risk of glaucoma, macular degeneration, and cataracts, protecting the lens in the eye and improving vision.

The vegetable also contains selenium, which supports vitamin E in protecting the cells in the eye. Onion extracts can also help prevent the development of corneal haze.

Temiloluwa Omotosho, a seasoned nutritionist, revealed that the natural plant is used for numerous health conditions. She said, “Onions are good antioxidants and prevent cell damage. I agree if you tell me that onion works for digestive problems, skin health, or eye health.” 

However, DUBAWA found no academic research that validates drinking onion water to cure eye defects, and the medical experts we contacted also debunked the claim.

Experts comment

DUBAWA contacted Jovi Boparai, an American ophthalmologist and Corneacare’s chief executive officer, who revealed that no scientific research backed such a claim. He said, “Onions may contain some vitamins and minerals that would be helpful for eye conditions, but no scientific literature supports such claim as a cure for eye diseases. I’ve never heard of that, and I’ve never used that in my practice.”

He also warned people to beware of unorthodox treatment, especially for delicate cases like glaucoma and cataracts. “You can go blind from [glaucoma]. The last thing we want is for somebody with glaucoma to treat themselves using onion water and think that it’s improving things when it’s not. Glaucoma, along with cataracts, is one of the leading causes of blindness globally. It’s vital to see an eye doctor to get the proper treatment,” he said.

Lucy Owulo, a dietitian at the Federal Ministry of Health, debunked the claim, stating that it lacked scientific evidence. She urged people to disregard the information and related claims, saying they are called “food fads” in nutrition.

Ms Temiloluwa also said drinking onion water is good but cannot cure eye defects. She said, “It helps to suppress some health conditions in the body, but not using it specifically to treat an eye condition and expect it to be cured. I don’t think it has been scientifically established yet. You can’t base the treatments of these eye defects on onion water.” 

Conclusion

Though onions contain nutrients that contribute to healthier vision, experts revealed that soaking onions in water for drinking cannot cure eye defects. The claim is misleading.

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