This article is a review of Melcare’s Optimel Manuka eye drops/gel. I am surprised to see that there are no reviews for this Australian product anywhere except for a thread on the www.dryeyezone.com which is where I heard about them. So I decided to spread the word about this product. I have to give these eye drops 10 out of 10. This product is excellent and a 100% effective in treating various eyelid diseases especially Meibomian Gland Disease (MGD), blepharitis, styes, and chalazions. I can say this with confidence because I have suffered from all of these eyelid conditions and no other product has worked for me with such efficacy. Melcare also claims that this product treats Corneal Erosion and Aqueous Tear Deficiency and I wouldn’t doubt that claim. But keep in mind that I am not a doctor and I am speaking strictly based on my personal experience with this product. I also don’t have any financial ties with this product or the manufacturer, I don’t benefit financially or otherwise from promoting/advertising this product.
What is Optimel Manuka eye drops/gel?
Optimel Manuka eye drops are basically Manuka honey. Simple as that. Best thing about it is that it is all natural. The product was developed by Melcare and they have two products in the ocular health category – Optimel gel, which is 98% Manuka honey without any preservatives and Optimel drops, which are 16.5% Manuka honey with Benzoic acid as a preservative. The drops are less viscous as compared to the gel and don’t sting as much. I use the gel at home but the drops at work since I don’t want to be blind and tearing at my desk for 5 minutes after applying them. You can read more about this product on Melcare’s website.
These eye drops are a 100% safe to use and are approved by the Therapeutic Goods Administration (TGA) in Australia, the FDA equivalent of Australia.
I actually wouldn’t call them side effects but Optimel Manuka eye gel does sting and burn when applied. It burns for a good 5 minutes or so and will make you tear and your eyes red. But it only lasts about 5 minutes and it feels heavenly after. If you can get over this minor discomfort, I am confident that you will see amazing results.
Where to buy Optimel?
If you live in Australia, I am guessing you can buy it at any pharmacy or an ophthalmologist/optometrist office. But if you live outside of Australia it is a bit hard to find it. I could only find one Optometrist in Australia that ships this product worldwide and they have a website , Eyes@Narangba where you can shop for this product.
Optimel gel costs $25 AUD and lasts me 2 months. It would last longer but Melcare recommends replacing it every 2 months. This product is very economical for the value it provides.
Why use Optimel?
Well to answer this question I will have to bore you with my story about how I suffered my entire life from chronic eyelid diseases such as blepharitis, MGD, styes and chalazions and how conventional treatments such as warm compress, antibiotics, corticosteroids, lid scrubs, lid massage and artificial tears were failing to help and how finally Optimel came to my rescue.
So here is my story. I have suffered from blepharitis since I was a child. I can’t recall when it started but I think I must have been around 10-12 years old. I never treated the condition and I lived with the flaky, crusty and inflamed eyelids. I assume that the condition was a result of MGD and the thicker oil secretions associated with MGD. In Dec 2010, when I was 22 years old, I woke up one morning with 3 pea sized styes on my right upper eyelid. I went to the doctor who prescribed an antibiotic ointment, lid scrubs and warm compress. One of the styes resolved but the other two formed chalazions. Since they were big and caused a lot of discomfort, I decided to get them surgically removed a few months later. I continued with the prescribed lid scrubs, omega-3 fish oils and in the next 6 months my eyelids healed and it was as if nothing had happened and I thought that was the end of it. Although I thought I was healed, my ophthalmologist warned me that my blepharitis was a result of MGD and it will slowly progress and get worse with time. Aside from the warning, there were no treatments that were offered except for eyelid massage while in the shower, eyelid hygiene and Omega-3 supplements. I followed my opthalmologist’s advice obediently.
But 3 years later, in Oct 2014, I got a big stye again on my right lower eyelid. And I went through the same routine. Doctors prescribed antibiotics and warm compress but nothing helped and the stye formed a chalazion. This time I decided to not get it surgically removed and wait for it to resolve on its own. While I still had this chalazion on my eye, I got another stye in April 2015 but it luckily drained and resolved in a month. The chalazion from Oct 2014 was just starting to resolve when in Dec 2015 I got another stye on my right upper eyelid. Fortunately this one drained as well and resolved within a month. At this point I had lost enough meibomian glands in my right eye that it was significantly dry all the time. So at this point I decided that conventional treatment was not working for me and I needed something more to find a way to prevent the styes from occurring and improve my eyelid health.
This is when I found Optimel and within a few months of using Optimel gel, these chronic eyelid diseases just disappeared. How did this one product blow conventional medicine out of the water? I have no clue, but I am aware that honey is a natural antibacterial and anti-inflammatory and has been used for ages in Ayurvedic medicine to treat various eye diseases. I also came across this article about a man who cured chronic blepharitis with a jar of 99% honey and this further motivated me to try Optimel. There are many Ayurvedic eye drops in India that have honey as the main ingredient. Some of those products are available on Amazon here.
Optimel is not available in North America, so I ordered them from Australia. I started using Optimel in Jan 2016 and after about 3 months of using it, my eyelid health has improved significantly. Symptoms of blepharitis are completely gone. The chronic eyelid inflammation has vanished and dry eye symptoms have improved dramatically. My eyes look and feel normal. Eyelids are not dry and flaky any more and dry eye symptoms are completely under control. I can easily get through the whole day now without any or minimal dry eye symptoms. It is too soon for me to gurantee that Optimel will prevent styes forever but fortunately I haven’t had any styes since I started using it (knock on wood).
Treatments I tried but didn’t work for me
On my quest to treat MGD and blepharitis, I tried various different treatments that didn’t seem to help or fix the root cause of the problem. Not to say that these treatments won’t work for someone else.
1. Lid scrubs: Lid scrubs helped keep the lid margins relatively clean but they didn’t help curing MGD. The meibomian glands were still plugged and the eyelids were still dry, inflamed and flaky.
2. Warm Compress: Warm compress helped relieve dry eye symptoms temporarily but I was still not able to get through the day without severe dry eye discomfort. The warm compress also failed to kickstart the plugged meibomian glands.
3. Omega 3’s: I have been taking omega 3 fish oil regularly since Dec 2010 but they have not seemed to have made any noticeable improvements in my meibomian gland health.
4. Tobradex: At one point I was prescribed tobradex which is an antibiotic as well as a corticosteroid, for a month. A corticosteroid is typically not prescribed for longer than a week but my ophthalmologist decided to take a chance and see if using tobradex for a month would completely get rid of blepharitis. Tobradex did succeed in completely curing belpharitis symptoms but soon after I stopped using Tobradex, the symptoms returned. This is one reason why I like Optimel. Optimel is an antibiotic and an anti-inflammatory and can be used long term without any side effects.
5. Blinking exercises: I tried these for about 4 months and they didn’t seem to make a difference for me.
6. Tea Tree Oil: I tried lid scrubs with diluted tea tree oil for about 6 months. I tried this because I read about how some people have blepharitis from demodex infestation and tea tree oil works best for this kind of blepharitis. I was skeptical to try it and I am not surprised that it didn’t work for me. Almost everyone has demodex mites on their eye lashes but not everyone gets blepharitis as a result of it. This is similar to people using antibacterial soaps thinking that they can kill all the bacteria on their skin (god knows why someone would even try to do that) but it is just impossible. Our microbiome is a part of our physiology and essential for our well being.
What worked for me?
Since I am not a 100% sure that it was just Optimel or a combination of treatments that worked for me, I have detailed my daily maintenance routine here which has seemed to have cured my eyelid ailments. I start the day with a warm compress and then use Optimel gel right after the compress. I use Bruder eye hydrating mask for the warm compress for 10 minutes and it seems to work really well and is very quick to use. It provides steady moist heat. You can buy this eye mask on Amazon. Mid day, I use Optimel drops and then once I get home from work in the evening I apply a warm compress. At night after I shower, I use lid scrubs and use Optimel gel after. Throughout the day I use Hylo gel drops to keep my eyes moist on an as needed basis. This routine has seemed to work best for me.
The one treatment that I wanted to try but never did is Lipiflow. This is a relatively new treatment that uses heat and pressure to completely empty out the meibomian glands of the thick obstructing oils. helping the glands to restart with fresh oil production. The reason why I didn’t try Lipiflow because the relief is only supposed to last for year or a year and a half at best. The treatment is also very expensive, about $1500 CAD. The fact that symptoms return after a year tells me that the treatment is more of a bandaid than a solution that treats the root of the problem. But nevertheless, I have heard great things about it.
In conclusion, I believe that Optimel has made a significant improvement in my eyelid health. My eyelids have never looked so healthy before. I would highly recommend that you give it a try and please try it for at least 3 months before giving up on it. It is a very inexpensive solution to a disease that seems to have no real solution for some people.