Fact Check: Can massaging oil on feet improve eyesight?

Quick Take

A number of social media posts claim that massaging mustard oil on feet will help improve eyesight. We fact-checked and found that the claim is false.

The Claim

“Massaging the feet with lukewarm mustard oil before going to bed at night increase eyesight…,” claims a post on Instagram. Similar posts have also been published by multiple users on Facebook and can be seen here, here, and here. A screenshot is also given below.

Fact Check

Does massaging have any impact on eye health?

The technique of using massage for benefit of eye health falls under the domain of reflexology and accupressure.

While there are multiple claims from experts of the domains, there is little to no medical research based evidence about them.

Also, both these processes are extremely expert driven and not a “do-it-yourself”. The experts know the exact pressure points in the body that can help relieve tension and improve the overall well being of the organ, as claimed.

As per a detailed paper published about reflexology and its associated benefits in 2015, authors note down various pressure points on foot those, when massaged, can help eye health. However, at the same time they note, “currently, the learning centre which provides training for reflexology is very limited,” indicating that there are very limited experts on the matter.

Is massaging with mustard oil has extra benefits?

Maybe. There is limited evidence to support the claim.

Mustard oil has been used for massage across India and Bangladesh for ages. The popular belief is it is good for the skin and hair.

In a study done about the practice of massaging infants with mustard oil in Bangladesh, researchers note, “Benefits may include improved skin condition and barrier function, resulting in reduced loss of transepidermal water and improved thermoregulation; absorption of fatty acids, contributing to improved nutrition; better somatic growth, neuro-development and infant-parent bonding; and improved skin integrity and reduced risk of nosocomial infection.

Can mustard oil massage improve eyesight?

No. Improving eyesight is not possible through massage or any other means.

Dr. Brahmi Pandey

Dr. Brahmi Pandey, MBBS, MS, DNB (Ophthalmology) says, “Foot massage can be very soothing. It can contribute to an overall feeling of relaxation and good health. It cannot harm. However, there is no scientific evidence that can justify that any foot massage improves eyesight. This has neither been experienced by the vast majority of ophthalmologists nor there is any evidence in the form of a scientific paper to confirm the same.

As Eye specialists, we consider improvement in eyesight as a definite measurable improvement in the best-corrected visual acuity. However, for many, it can be a subjective feeling of well-being.

The choice of mustard oil over other oils for foot massage contributing to an improvement in eyesight also could not stand the test either in clinical experience or in the form of established research.

The real fact that these stories exist and many seem to buy them is because of their belief system. This is similar to the placebo effect where faith is more important a healing factor than the medicine itself.”

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