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Alternative Medicine, Nutrition, and Conjunctivitis

The term conjunctivitis describes a variety of inflammations of the conjunctiva (outermost layer of the eye and the inner eyelids), which have their own etiologies (causes). For instance, the cause of conjunctivitis may be a viral or bacterial infection, allergies, or toxins.

Viral conjunctivitis is often associated with the common cold or upper respiratory infections. Symptoms of a viral conjunctivitis infection might include a thin watery discharge with itchiness. Bacterial conjunctivitis infection symptoms may include a feeling of grittiness in the eye, pain or stinging in the eye, and the production of pus that may cause the eyelids to be crusty or matted together (especially after a night’s sleep), while acute allergy related conjunctivitis symptoms may include extreme itchiness and swelling of the eyelids.

Most conjunctivitis infections cause the eyes to appear red, bloodshot, or pink, hence the term pinkeye in the United States or redeye in the United Kingdom.

Of course, treatment options for conjunctivitis are dependent upon the cause of the infection. Generally, viral conjunctivitis takes three weeks to one month to clear up, and treatment is usually palliative in nature such as cold compresses, artificial tears, and, in the most severe cases, corticosteriod drops are used to alleviate the symptoms.

There is no cure for viral conjunctivitis; consequently the infection must “run its course”. On the other hand, bacterial conjunctivitis is generally treated with antibiotic ointments. Allergy related conjunctivitis is generally treated with non-steroidal anti-inflammatory medications or antihistamines, although steroid eye drops may be used in more chronic allergy related conjunctivitis cases.

A variety of sources indicate that the following micronutrients, supplements, and/or herbs may potentially be helpful for this condition. However, it may be wise to consult with your physician prior to taking nutritional supplements and this is certainly recommended for individuals with a diagnosed condition, particularly those who take prescribed medication.

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