1. Eye care

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Important Note:

The laws here on the most part relate to classical symptoms which are a mere ache, and what treatments are defined as recognized medical treatments and thus may not be done.  This however does not negate any of the laws explained in the previous chapter of the different levels of illnesses and their respective laws. Thus, if in any of the below mentioned cases one has reached a severity of illness as those mentioned above which allow desecration of Shabbos to a certain extent, then all those laws apply.

1. Eye care:

A. Placing ointment in one’s eye:

  • Placing tasteless saliva on one’s eyes:[1]

Tasteless saliva, which is defined as all the saliva that one has after awaking from his sleep [at night] prior to having tasted anything, is potent and has healing powers, and is forbidden to be placed even on the eyelids being that doing so does not appear as if he is rinsing them as it is not common to rinse with saliva due to its repulsiveness.

Saliva mixed with water: However, if one washes his mouth with water and then passes it on his eyes, then although that tasteless saliva is mixed into that water it is [nevertheless] permitted being that it is not repulsive to rinse [one’s eyes] with such water [and thus does not appear that one is doing so for healing purposes].

  • Applying collyrium to one’s eyes:[2]

Soaking it before Shabbos: One may soak liquidly and clear collyrium[3] before Shabbos and place it over his eyelids on Shabbos for healing.

The Reason: There is no decree here that one may come to grind herbs as since one was required to soak it before Shabbos this thus serves for him as a reminder that he may not make medicines on Shabbos[4].  There is no need to worry that the above gives onlookers a bad impression [and may lead them to think that medication is allowed to be taken on Shabbos] as [rinsing one’s eyes with it] simply appears like one is washing them as since [the collyrium] is liquidly and clear it appears to the onlooker as if it is wine.[5]

Opening and closing the eyes: Nonetheless, one may not open and close his eyes [upon placing it on them] as when done so it is evident that that his intentions [in placing it there] are for healing purposes.

Thick collyrium: However thick collyrium is forbidden to place on one’s eyelids on Shabbos because it is evident that it is done for healing purposes. Although if one placed it [on his eyelids] from before Shabbos then it is permitted [to be left there over Shabbos] as explained in chapter 252 Halacha 14].

  • Placing wine in the eye:[6]

One may not place wine into an eye because it is recognizable that one is doing so for healing purposes, although it is permitted to place it on top of the eye[7] because [doing so] only appears like one is rinsing [his eyelid] and not like he is intending to do so for healing purposes.

Closing and opening the eye: [However] this is only [permitted] so long as that one does not open and close his eyes, however if he does open and close [his eyes] so the wine penetrates into it, then it is recognizable that he is intending to do so for healing purposes and it is thus forbidden.

The law today: Today that it is no longer accustomed to rinse [one’s eye] with wine it is forbidden [to rinse one’s eye with it] under all circumstances [even if he does not open and close his eyes] if his intention in doing so is for healing.


Summary-Placing ointment in one’s eyes for healing[8]:

May only be done if it is not evident that one is doing so for healing purposes.


B. Treatment for one who is unable to open his eyes:[9]

One who is unable to open his eyes is allowed to damp them even with pure tasteless saliva, being that [the Sages] only prohibited doing so when done with intent of healing and this [purpose to help one’s eyes open] is not considered healing.


Summary- One who is unable to open his eyes[10]:

May wet them with even medical ointment as doing so is not considered a treatment.


C. Treating eye irritation:[11]

One may place a vessel over an eye in order to cool [the eye] down as long as the vessel is permitted to be moved [not-Muktzah].

Similarly, what is done to a person which feels eye pain in which they surround [his eye] with a ring in order to restrain the inflammation [of the eye is likewise allowed to be done on Shabbos].



May my son use eyedrops on Shabbos to prevent his lens number from going up?



Yes, if he is under 9 years old, or if lack of doing so can cause a significant loss of eyesight later on.

Background: Ideally, eyedrops are forbidden on Shabbos for medicinal purposes unless it is done for a specific active condition such as an eye infection [as opposed to mere dryness of the eye, or slight pain]. It is questionable as to how to judge the purpose for which the eyedrops are intended for, and if it is to be viewed similar to dryness, which is forbidden, or like a Sakanas Eiver which is permitted. Practically, if your son is under 9 years old you may do so for any medicinal purpose including the one you mentioned. If he is above age 9, then seemingly this matter would depend on how bad the eyesight can be damaged if the eyedrops are not given during the 24 hours period of Shabbos, and whether one can rely on those Poskim who rule that if one started a treatment before Shabbos than one may continue on Shabbos. However, my leaning stance would be that if it can damage the eyesight to the point that one will have abnormal difficulty seeing, or higher than average eye prescriptions even later on in life, then one may do so.

Sources: See Admur 328: 9,22, 26-27; 51; Michaber 328:9; Minchas Yitzchak 1:78; See Piskeiy Teshuvos 328:22; Choveret Asia 48:79


Question: [Thursday, 24th yar 5781]

My daughter has a stye pimple by the side of her eye which is very much irritating her. May she place a bag of tea on her eyes for the sake of healing it on Shabbos. The pimple is causing her eyelid to close up and it is difficult for her to see.



If she is below the age of nine then this may be done. If she is above age 9 then she should not do so unless she is in so much pain that she is bedridden or feels weak in her entire body, or the infection has begun to spread into the actual eye. Even in the above cases of allowance, this may only done if the intent is to relieve the pain from the eye or reduce the infection, and not in order to help release blood and puss from the stye.


Explanation: In general, the rule is that it is forbidden to give medical treatment on Shabbos to a child above age 9 unless he is bedridden or weak in his entire body, even if the treatment does not involve any independent prohibition. Particularly, the Talmud and sages explicitly state regulations regarding eye treatment on Shabbos, prohibiting the placing of ointment onto it, and the same would apply regarding a teabag. The only time that is permitted to treat an eye on Shabbos is if either a) there is danger of life or limb involved [various forms of eye infections], or the pain is so great that one is bedridden or feels weak in his entire body as a result, or b) it is not apparent to the onlooker that one is treating the eye and merely appears like he’s washing it, or c) the eye does not have any real ailment, such as one who cannot open his eye due to dry puss and therefore is allowed to wash it even with ointment in order to open it. Likewise, it is permitted to place a vessel over his eye in order to cool it down. Likewise, one who is suffering from eye inflammation a place a ring around his eye in order to prevent it from spreading being that this does not actually heal the eye or perhaps because it is not apparent to others that one does so for healing. From all the above it is understood that it is forbidden to place a teabag on the eye for the sake of healing a stye if it does not fall under the exemptions of a). Furthermore, placing it on a stye in order so it release blood and puss can fall under the biblical Mifarek prohibition which prohibits placing ointment on a wound in order to release blood and pus.


Sources: See Admur 328:9; 328:25-27, 32-33, 328:51, 54; Piskeiy Teshuvos 328:22



[1] Admur 328:26

[2] Admur 328:27

[3] In eye care, a collyrium is a lotion or liquid wash used as a cleanser for the eyes, particularly in diseases of the eye. Pre-modern medicine distinguished two kinds of collyriums: the one liquid, the other dry. Liquid collyriums were composed of ophthalmic powders, or waters, such as rose-water, plantain-water, that of fennel, eyebright, etc, in which was dissolved tutty, white vitriol, or some other proper powder. The dry collyriums were troches of rhasis, sugar-candy, iris, tutty prepared and blown into the eye with a little pipe.

[4] Lit. Deal with healing on Shabbos

[5] However today that no one washes with wine shouldn’t we say that it does appear like healing to the onlooker?

[6] Admur 328:25

[7] Seemingly this refers to placing it on the eye lid when closed. See Rashi on Shabbos 108b

[8] Admur 328:27

[9] Admur 328:26

[10] Admur 328:26

[11] Admur 328:51

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