What is conjunctivitis
Conjunctivitis is an inflammation of the conjunctiva – the mucous membrane that lines the inner surface of the eyelid and the exposed surface of the eyeball. When inflammation and infection happen, conjunctival membranes become red, which causes eye discharge – this is why sometimes in the morning eyelashes are glued.
The conjunctiva is in constant contact with the environment and therefore is exposed to bacteria and other irritants. Tears bathe the surface of the eye – containing the enzymes and antibodies which inhibit the growth of bacterial infection and thus protect the surface of the eye.
Conjunctivitis is the most common eye disease and varies from mild inflammation with watery eyes to severe inflammation that can lead to serious complications.
There is six types of conjunctivitis: Viral, Bacterial, Allergic, Giant Papillary ( GPC ) and Chronic.
Bacterial conjunctivitis occurs in 50% of the cases by bacteria Haemophilus Influenza and in 10% of the cases by bacteria Streptococcus Pneumoniae.
Symptoms include redness and swelling, yellow-green discharge that accumulates during sleep, the eyelids are glued after waking up. Patients are light sensitive with stinging sensation and have foreign body sensation. The infection usually begins in one eye, and then the other eye becomes involved, within a few days. Antibiotic drops are commonly used in the treatment.
Viral and bacterial forms of conjunctivitis are very contagious and can rapidly spread among children, sometimes causing local epidemic.
The causes of allergic conjunctivitis are allergens such as pollen, grass and trees, animal hair, dust, cosmetics and others.
It most often occurs seasonally, and the symptoms are swollen eyelids, a burning sensation in the eye, excessive tearing, redness, and whitish discharge.
Symptoms may resolve spontaneously, or otherwise treated with topical corticosteroid drops or allergy medicine. The best prevention is to wear glasses and avoid the allergens.
Neonatal conjunctivitis usually occurs during the passage through the birth canal, and the cause is often Chlamydia, bacteria that is normally present in the vagina. Other bacteria, in particular Streptococcus pneumoniae, Hemophilus Influenzae and Neisseria gonorrhoeae ( bacteria causing gonorrhea ), may also cause neonatal conjunctivitis.
Neonatal conjunctivitis occurs in newborns 5-14 days after birth. It is recognizable by redness of the eyes, sticky discharge and swollen eyelids.
Don’t delay the treatment, the inflammation can affect the cornea and thus permanently damage eyesight.
Giant Papillary Conjunctivitis (GPC)
Gigantopapillary conjunctivitis occurs after a long period of wearing contact lenses ( usually soft ), but also as a reaction to ocular prostheses, the cyanoacrylate tissue adhesive and residual suture after surgical intervention.
Gigantopapillary conjunctivitis is recognizable by spots on the inner surface of the eyelids, discharge and itching that occurs after removing contact lenses.
Therapy, depending on the stage of the disease, includes the replacement and shorter periods of use of contact lenses. Doctors will probably suggest using topical corticosteroids.
Chronic Bacterial Conjunctivitis
Chronic bacterial conjunctivitis is a persistent inflammation of the conjunctiva caused by bacteria that is characterized by diverse subjective symptoms. The most frequent causes of chronic bacterial conjunctivitis are: Staphylococcus aureus, Streptococcus pyogenes, Moraxella lacunata, Klebsiella pneumoniae, Serratia marcescens and Escherichia coli.
Symptoms of chronic bacterial conjunctivitis are burning sensation, redness of the eye, foreign body sensation, eyelids crusting and even loss of eyelashes.
Artificial tears and antibiotic medications are used for the treatment.
Hot and Cold Compress
Hot and cold compresses may be helpful if you have a lot of discharge coming from the eyes.
- Put a towel under warm water and use it as a compress to counteract drying of sticky discharge on eyelashes.
- Use a cold compress (towel soaked in ice water) to cut swelling and relieve itching, especially if your conjunctivitis is caused by allergies.
- Repeat this methods three or four times a day for five minutes.
- Use a clean towel every time to prevent passing the infection to other eye.
Mother’s Milk ( Neonatal )
Breast milk contains immunoglobulin A, which prevents bacterial conjunctivitis on the mucous membrane of the eye. Because this prevents the growth of bacteria – it can effectively stop an eye infection.
- Put a few drops of milk in the affected eye.
- Slightly lift the lid to distribute milk everywhere in the eye.
- For the best results, repeat the procedure three times a day.
Garlic is an excellent antibiotic, has certain chemicals that help to kill the bacteria and is known for being very effective against infections.
- Peel the onion and make the cut so that you can squeeze the juice out.
- Rub the onion juice on the inflamed eyelid.
- You might feel a stinging sensation, but it will disappear after a while.
National research, as well as those around the world, showed that honey has antiviral and antibacterial properties and is more effective than antibiotic ointments. There are many types of honey. It is best to use Manuka honey because it has a high content of compounds called dihydroxyacetone.
- You need a ¼ tablespoon of raw honey, a pinch of salt and ¼ cup of clean water.
- The water should be warm to dissolve salt and honey.
- Do not overheat the water as it will lose some properties.
- Take a clean pipette, fill it with this mixture and put a few drops in the infected eye.
Colloidal Silver Water
This silver solution has been used for decades for the treatment of the infected eye at a time when there was no antibiotic ointments. Silver nitrates were applied to the eyes of newborn babies as a prevention for all types of bacterial infections. This practice is still present in some hospitals, however, it is realized that silver nitrates can cause irritation and antibiotic ointments were invented.
- Colloidal silver water is safer to use compared with silver nitrate.
- You can out one or two drops of colloidal silver water directly in the infected eye, regardless of whether it is a viral or bacterial infection.
- Repeat this process three to four times a day and conjunctivitis will disappear completely.
Chamomile is known to be very effective in the treatment of conjunctivitis, because of it’s anti-irritant, anti-inflammatory, and anti-microbial properties.
- Soothe your eyes with chamomile compress. Put chamomile tea bags for two or three minutes in warm (not hot ) water.
- Squeeze excess liquid and then put a tea bag on the infected eye, hold it for about 10 minutes.
- Repeat this three or four times a day with fresh tea bags.
- Keep your eyes closed so that the liquid does not come into direct contact with them.
- Take same quantities of chamomile, elder flower, sweetscented bedstraw and rose petals.
- Mix them well, take one spoon from this mixture and put in half a liter of boiled water.
- Cover and leave to stand for 15 minutes, then squeeze out and put aside three cups.
- Drink one cup of this tea three times a day and flush your eyes with the rest.
- Do not use chamomile tea if you are allergic to pollen, grasses and weeds!
Eyebright contributes to the removal of eye infections by boosting blood flow to the eye, which washes away the scab from the eye.
- Put a teaspoon of dried herb in half a liter of water and cook for 10 minutes.
- When the tea cools and becomes lukewarm, not hot, dip a clean gauze, put in on your eyes and let it stand for 5-10 minutes.
- Repeat the procedure three or four times a day.
Those who are familiar with Ayurveda, the traditional medicine of India, treat the conjunctivitis with the pulp from the fresh leaves of coriander.
- Mix a handful of coriander leaves with 100 ml of water.
- Strain the juice and place the pulp on the closed eyes.
- Leave it on for several minutes, then remove it and wipe your eyes before you open them.
- Coriander compress is also effective in the treatment of conjunctivitis.
- For this compress you’ll need a handful of coriander leaves. Chop them and put in 100 ml of water. Mix in a blender and strain the juice.
- Apply the compress on closed eyelids for several minutes. Before you open your eyes, remove the compress and wipe your eyes.
- For eye wash you need a cup of boiling water in which you’ll put 1 teaspoon of coriander seeds.
- Allow to stand for about 15 minutes.
- Liquid is used for rinsing eyes closed, before you open your eyes, be sure to wipe off any liquid.
Marigold (Calendula officinalis ) has a soothing effect on the eyes because it is rich in flavonoids ( relieves inflammation and irritation of the eye ), vegetable mucus and carotene ( accelerating the healing of scars and regeneration of the epithelium ). Thanks to that, Marigold tea or infusion may relieve the symptoms of conjunctivitis, eye irritation and especially itching.
- Put two teaspoons of dried flowers in a bowl, add 2 cups of boiling water and allow to soak for twenty minutes.
- Then strain the flowers and remove them.
- Do not boil this tea, but pour a spoon of marigold mixture in 250 ml of boiling water and leave for 3-5 minutes.
Elderflower infusions are been traditionally used as an eye wash to treat conjunctivitis.
- Take a bottle with a wide neck and fill it with fresh elderflowers without stems.
- Close the bottle with cellophane and let it stand for about two or three weeks on the sun or in a warm place.
- During this time the bottom of the bottle will fill up with the black fluid.
- When the flower has turned black, strain the resulting black fluid through a cheesecloth or a rag.
- Add an equal amount of alcohol to the squeezed fluid, shake well and close. Be sure to shake it every time you want to use it.
- Take a cotton ball, soak it in the mixture, and place on a closed eye.
- Place a dry cloth over the cotton ball and hold throughout the night.
- In the morning, be sure to rinse your eyes with cold chamomile tea. Repeat the procedure a couple of days.
If you grow your own raspberries or you know someone who does, gather leaves of this delicious fruit and mix it with an equal amount of marshmallow.
- Take 25 g of the mixture and put in 7 dl of boiling water.
- Then, reduce the heat and simmer until 2/3 of the liquid evaporates.
- When the tea is cool, strain and use it several times a day for eyewash.
Parsley is a popular spice often used in cooking, but don’t be surprised by its other benefits. Parsley tea or juice can help us lose weight, it is ideal for kidney cleansing and for the treatment of conjunctivitis.
- Take 2 tablespoons of finely chopped mixture of parsley root and leaves and chamomile flowers and put it in half a liter of boiling water.
- Leave covered for 2 hours, strain the liquid and rinse the eyes for several minutes.
- Close the affected eye and wipe it with the cotton ball or cloth.
- Repeated this treatment 2 to 3 times a day for 7 consecutive days.
Probiotic yogurt is an excellent home remedy for oral care, but it is also beneficial in many other ways, for example, for the treatment of conjunctivitis. You will need probiotic yogurt and several cotton pads.
- Remember, it is necessary to rinse your eyes before and after the treatment.
- Take one cotton pad, soak it in probiotic yogurt and place it on the eye. Hold for at least 15 minutes.
- Close the affected eye and wipe it with the cotton ball or cloth.
- You can repeat this process 3 to 4 times a day.
- Redness will be gone in a few days, but itching may last a little longer.
Apple Cider Vinegar
Apple cider vinegar or ACV is great in the fight against infections, because it has antimicrobial properties. The malic acid, which is found in unpasteurized ACV, is particularly good in the fight against bacterial infections.
- Mix 2 teaspoons of organic ACV in a cup of filtered water.
- Dip a cotton ball or a clean cloth in the mixture.
- Close the affected eye and wipe it with the cotton ball or cloth.
- Repeat the treatment every few hours for 2-3 days.
- It is also possible to put a drop of this mixture in the eye, but the feeling is not pleasant.
Aloe Vera has antibacterial, antifungal and anti-stress properties and it is highly recommended in the treatment of conjunctivitis.
- Take a few chunks of fresh aloe Vera gel (peeled from the leaves) and put it in a cup of cooled water, which has been previously boiled, and wait until it turns pale green.
- Other option is to blend the pieces with water in a blender.
- Use this mixture to treat the infected eye. Put a few drops in the eye, 3 or 4 times a day. You can also use it as an eyewash.
- Warning: this remedy is not recommended for children.
Prevention and Tips
Although it is difficult to prevent conjunctivitis, there are measures that can be taken to reduce the possibility of getting sick or spreading the disease to others:
- Be sure to visit an ophthalmologist.
- Eye drops and ointments may be used only by one person. Take into account the expiration date and method of use.
- Do not use other people’s medicines.
- Wash your hands before and after applying the remedies.
- Avoid touching the eye area.
- Do not share wipes, towels and pillowcases with anyone and be sure to change them every day.
- Disinfect surfaces in your home that are commonly touched and used by other family members, such as sink, door handles etc.
- Do not use aggressive make-up and cosmetics.
- Wear sunglasses with UV protective factor because they protect eyes from external contaminants and other harmful influences.