Conjunctivitis is an inflammation of the conjunctiva-the transparent membrane that lines the eyelids and the eyeball. Conjunctivitis is caused by a highly contagious viral or bacterial infection or by an allergic reaction in the eye. Infants that are born with blocked tear ducts sometimes develop conjunctivitis (surgery can correct this condition). Regardless of the cause, the symptoms for conjunctivitis are the same.
When caused by a bacterial or viral infection, conjunctivitis is highly infectious and can spread quickly. When an infected person touches a door-knob, telephone, keyboard, or other surface after rubbing her eye, the virus or bacteria is transmitted to that surface. If another person touches the infected surface then later rubs his eye, he may develop conjunctivitis. Symptoms usually appear within two days after contact with the bacteria or virus.
Signs and Symptoms
- Burning, itching, watering, and redness in one or both eyes
- Yellowish discharge in the eye that forms a crust at the lash line during sleep
- Light sensitivity
Conventional Medical Treatment
If you think you have conjunctivitis, visit a doctor for a checkup. Your doctor may analyze the eye discharge to see what type of conjunctivitis you have, and, thus, determine a treatment strategy. To treat bacterial conjunctivitis, your doctor may prescribe antibiotic eye drops. If your conjunctivitis is caused by an allergy, an antihistamine may help. Viral conjunctivitis is typically not treated with medication.
Complementary and Alternative Treatments
- Nutrition and Supplementation
- Vitamin A is necessary to maintain good health of the eyes and the membranes that line the inner eye socket. combine vitamin A with vitamin C and zinc, which help the body fight infections, including conjunctivitis.
- Nutritionists recommend the following dailY supplements for treating conjunctivitis:
- vitamin C (2000 to 6000 mg in divided doses)
- vitamin A (50,000 IU for 1 month, then reduce to 25,000 IU daily; do not exceed 8000 IU daily if you are pregnant)
- zinc (50 mg)-use lozenge form
(For an acute condition, take supplements until your symptoms subside. If symptoms persist, seek the advice of your healthcare provider. For a chronic condition, consult your healthcare provider regarding the duration of treatment.)
Conjunctivitis may respond to homeopathic treatment. However, the selection of a remedy-more than one is available-depends on your symptoms and the stage of the condition. Don’t try treating this disorder yourself. See a homeopathic professional.
Apply alternating hot and cold compresses several times daily to temper the-itching, inflammation, and gritty feeling that accompanies conjunctivitis. Use the hot compresses for 2 to 3 minutes; follow with cold compresses for 20 minutes.
Traditional Chinese Medicine
Acupuncture Because practitioners generally attribute conjunctivitis to a damp-heat condition, they typically treat with acupuncture therapy for damp-heat syndrome. The acupuncturist typically focuses on various points along the liver meridian, along with the eye, liver, and related organ points on the ear.
Acupressue Acupressure can be helpful in relieving inflammation and calming irritation. Points that may be targeted are Liver 3 on the foot, Stomach 36 near the knee, and related eye points on the temple and ear.
Chinese Herbal Therapy The herbalist begins by assessing whether the conjunctivitis is caused by an allergy, infection, poor nutrition, or stress. Soaked, big, chrysanthemum flowers laid on eyes will soothe and cool. Patent medicines prescribed may include Ming Mu Shang Ching Pien or Niu Huang Shang Quing Wan