Conjunctivitis, commonly known as pinkeye, is the inflammation of the eye's conjunctiva, the membrane coating the inner side of the lid and the whole eyeball except the cornea. One of the most common eye ailments, it is usually caused by staphylococcus bacteria, though it also can be the result of a virus (often in association with an influenza infection) or such irritants as smoke, makeup, heavy winds and allergies. The eye itches, burns, fills with tears, is sensitive to light and may appear bloodshot as well as swollen. Sufferers often feel as if a foreign body is trapped in their eye. In addition, their lids may stick together after being closed, for e.g., on awakening, because of pus secretions. Viral conjunctivitis is highly contagious. It is always wise to consult an ophthalmologist, since symptoms can mask more serious conditions. Herbal and homeopathic remedies are very helpful as an addition to medical treatment. These are also basic prevention guidelines.
True to its name Eyebright (Euphrasia officinalis), an anti-inflammatory herb, has proved quite valuable for treating eye irritations, such as conjunctivitis. Heat 3 tsp. of dried leaves and a few grains of table salt in 1 cup of water. Boil for 5-10 min. strain. Apply the liquid with a compress or use the decoction as a very soothing eye rinse.
What you can do?
Always wash away the fluid and crust that accumulate on the rim of the eye. Clean the eye with a cotton ball, moving from inner cornea to outer. It is important to discard the cotton ball to prevent the spread of infection. If the symptoms have not improved within 2 days, consult an ophthalmologist or physician. Noninfectious inflammations can be treated with herbal eyewashes, compresses and homeopathic remedies.
There are many steps you can take to avoid conjunctivitis. For instance, when riding in a car, keep the windows closed to avoid drafts. Don't dive into or swim in chlorinated water with your eyes open, wear swim goggles. Try not to strain your eyes. Working at a computer can heighten the risk of strain. Make sure any lighting is glare free, and don't work at a monitor for more than an hour at a time. It helps to focus on a distant point every 15 min or so. If you are allergic to pollen, wash your hair at night to keep it away from spreading to your pillowcase and into your eyes while you sleep.
Preventing the spread of infection
Infectious conjunctivitis is often transmitted by the hands. Wash frequently or use disinfectant hand creams to reduce the risk of contagion. Also use your own soap, washcloths and towels, and make sure no on else uses them. Avoid eye makeup because applicators can transmit infection from one eye to the other.
Protecting your eyes
Conjunctivitis makes the eyes sensitive to bright light and drafts. Tinted, light absorbing glass or even a wide brimmed hat can protect the eyes from sunlight, glare, smoke and blowing debris.
Take Care! : If you are nearsighted, be careful about eyestrain. You can irritate the eyes and prime them for injury and inflammation by rubbing them when they're strained.
Sage and chamomile compresses
Sage and chamomile herbal tea can be used to relieve eye inflammation. To make a sage or chamomile compress, bring 1 tsp. of either herb to a simmer in 1 cup of water; steep for 10 min and strain. When the tea has cooled, dampen a cotton cloth or pad over the affected eye. Apply several times daily until the inflammation and itching are gone.
Eyebright, goldenseal, Oregon grape and fennel all have anti-inflammatory properties. Eyedrops with these herbs moisten the eye and reduce swelling. Mix 1 oz. of eyebright and ½ oz. of fennel seeds with ½ oz. of goldenseal or Oregon grape-root powder. Steep 1 tbsp. of the mixture in 1 cup of hot water for about 10 min. apply a few drops of the cooled, strained tea into the inflamed eye every few hours until swelling is reduced.
Note : Use goldenseal with caution if you are allergic to ragweed.
Take 5 pellets of a remedy every hour. If the symptoms have not improved after 5 hr., discontinue use of the remedy.
- Aconitum 6X for conjunctivitis that is caused by a draft or a foreign body as well as for eye complaints that are associated with fevers or flus and accompanied by restlessness
- Euphrasia 6X for burning, red and light sensitive eyes with extremely swollen corners and rims.
- Sulfur 6X for dust irritation with the sense of a foreign body in the eye and red margins of lids
- Belladonna 6X for eyes that are red due to exposure to bright lights