PERSONAL PROFESSIONAL OPINION
Original Post on 5 Jan 2008
When babies scratch their eyes or when the eyes go red , it has been a practice in the Maldives to put breast milk in the eyes of the baby. So, I was wondering whether this practice is right? What makes it right? Does breast milk really reduce the itching and if so why is it?
That is a common practice in many parts of the world. What is common practice, however, does not necessarily make it a good practice!! It is not good medical practice to apply breast milk in the eyes for any condition.
Breast milk has many good qualities one of which is the ability to reduce the proliferation of bacteria (an anti-infective property). This is perhaps the reason why people have in the past allowed it to be used as an “eye drop” for minor eye infections and ailments.
Today, our understanding of eye conditions and their treatment has increased considerably. Furthermore, several ophthalmic solutions and medications with proven effectiveness and safety are available for these and other eye conditions. In this situation, good medical advice and practice would be to use the appropriate pharmaceutical agent for the condition diagnosed.
Using breast milk eye drops could potentially be harmful as well. In certain conditions of the eye, the milk sugar lactose may cause deterioration of the illness and the fat content may interfere with vision, albeit temporarily. Most commonly though, use of such treatment may delay initiation of the medically proven treatment and due to this delay irrecoverable damage may potentially occur.
I believe that breast milk is exceptionally good; for the baby to drink that is. I would recommend that it not be used as an eye drop for any eye condition.