An acute infection of the conjunctiva, which may be viral, bacterial or allergic. Only 25% of cases are caused by bacteria. Allergies and viruses (esp. adenoviruses) are responsible for most of the rest, along with other irritations to the eye and cornea, such as smoke, dust, wind, sunlamps, reflection of the snow, the common cold, exanthems and contact lenses. Bacterial infections may superimpose viral or allergic conditions. Allergic conjunctivitis is likely to persist until the season is over (e.g. from hay fever in spring), until the allergen is identified and removed from the patient’s exposure, or the symptoms are addressed with homeopathic desensitizing drops and nutritional support.
Viral conjunctivitis is usually self-limiting in 1-2 weeks, but is highly contagious and care should be taken to not spread the infection from one eye to the other or to another person. For example, the infected person should use separate towels. In bacterial conjunctivitis, treatment should be initiated promptly to avoid eye damage. Contact wearers should discontinue wearing their contacts for a few days, support nutritionally and begin wearing them again slowly.
If the irritating factor is not removed a chronic conjunctivitis may develop with symptoms less severe than that of the acute disease but still quite noticeable (redness, itching, smarting, feeling of foreign body).
Viral: Clear discharge; minimal or absent lid swelling; no itching; often, lymphadenopathy of periauricular node is present.
Allergic: Clear, mucoid discharge; high eosinophils; mild to marked lid swelling; severe itching with increased lacrimation; no nodal involvement.
Bacterial: Purulent, green discharge; high polymorphonuclear leukocytes; moderate lid swelling; no itching; no nodal involvement; possible fever.
In any of these cases, the patient may wake up in the morning with eyelids agglutinated shut.
A naturopathic approach to treating someone with conjunctivitis includes first, investigating the underlying cause. Very often I see this following cataract surgery. Topical application such as colloidal silver or a salt water eye ball flush may be prescribed as well as clinical nutrients, botanical medicine to boost the immune system. Homeopathic remedies for eye health may be recommended as well.