AS MANY as four out of 10 Irish people suffer from dry or scratchy eyes – and most people would never think of using beechwood to soothe them. Carlow eye doctor Michael Gallagher, however, believes his handmade beech wooden spoons have a better chance of healing dry eyes than traditional eye drops.
"I wasn't happy with the lubricants and eye washes which were being used to treat dry eyes," says Mr Gallagher, who runs eye clinics in Carlow, Dublin and Mullingar. "My patients were never getting on top of their eye problems with those products."
Mr Gallagher wanted to come up with a long-term solution for the treatment of dry eyes, so about two years ago he developed his own eye spoon. "The spoon is designed to fit on the surface of the closed eye," explains Mr Gallagher. "The heat in the wood lubricates the eye and decreases inflammation. The spoons are natural and chemical-free. Beechwood is used in particular because there are no abrasions on the wood."
He tested his product for a couple of years before bringing it to market last July through his new business, The Original Eye Spoon Company.
His eye spoon is already being sold in every pharmacy in Carlow, according to Mr Gallagher, as well as Specsavers in Portlaoise, Carlow and Kilkenny.
"The spoon is selling well," says the proud inventor. "The patients who have tried it find it very soothing and good to use at night-time."
He now hopes to export his eye spoon. "I'm already in negotiations with Boots in the UK and a number of chain stores in Boston," he added.