( By Dr. H.K.Bakhru )

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Conjunctivitis refers to an inflammation of the conjunctiva, the thin transparent membrane covering the eye ball. It is also known as sore eyes. It spreads from person to person through direct contact. Overcrowding, dirty surroundings and unhealthy living conditions can cause epidemic of this ailment.

Conjunctivitis is a very common form of eye problem. It can occur at any time of life when infection causes this tissue to become red and sore due to inflammation. Even babies of a few days old can suffer from this condition.


The eye ball and underside of the eyelids become inflammed. At first, the eyes are red, dry and burning. Later, there may be watery situation. In more serious cases, there is pus formation.

When the person is sleeping this material dries up, sticking the lashes together.


Conjunctivitis results from bacterial, or viral infection , or eye- strain. Excessive reading under artifical light and excessive use of the eyes in one way or the other contributes towards the disease. Its real cause can, however, be traced to cattarhal condition of the system resulting from general toxaemia due to dietetic errors and unhygenic conditin of living. The child generally suffers from colds or other ailments indicative of a general catarrhal condition.

The Cure

The treatment of conjunctivitis through salves and ointments does not cure the disease. To be effective, treatment must be constitutional. A thorough cleansing of the system and adoption of natural laws in diet and general living alone can help eliminate conjunctivitis.

The best way to commence the treatment is to adopt an exclusive fresh fruit diet for about two or three days. The diet may consist of fresh juicy fruits in season such as apple, orange, pear, peach, grapes, pineapple and papaya. Bananas should, however, not be taken. Thereafter, the patient may adopt a well-balanced diet consisting of seeds, nuts and grains, vegetables and fruits. The emphasis should be on fresh fruits and raw vegetable salad or lightly-cooked vegetables.

The patient should avoid an excessive intake of starchy and sugary foods in the form of white bread, refined cereals, potatoes, puddings, pies, pastry, sugar, jams and confectionery, which cause the general catarrhal condition as well as conjunctivitis. He should also avoid meat and excessive quantities of other protein and fatty foods, tea and coffee, too much salt, condiments and sauces.

Raw juices of certain vegetables, especially carrots and spinach, have been found valuable in the treatment of conjunctivitis. The combined juice of these two vegetables have proved very effective. About 100 ml. of spinach juice should be mixed with 150 ml. of carrot juice in this combination.

The leaves of ribbed gourd (torai) are useful in granular conjunctivitis in children. A few drops of the juice of this plant should be dropped in the eyes for treating this condition.

The juice of Indian gooseberry (amla) , mixed with honey, is useful in conjunctivitis. It reduces intraocular tension in a remarkable manner. A tablespoon of this juice should be taken mixed with half a teaspoon of honey twice daily in treating this condition. Lime is also useful cure. A few drops of this juice should be instilled in the eyes.

The juice of margosa (neem) leaves has been found beneficial in the treatment of pain due to conjunctivitis. A few leaves should be rubbed with a little water to obtain the juice and then strained through a clean piece of cloth. This juice should be warmed a little and a few drops into the ear opposite the ailing eye. This will give great relief and eyes will be cured after a few applications.

Vitamin A and B too has proved useful in conunctivitis. The patient should take liberal quantities of natural foods rich in these two vitamins. The vitamin A rich foods are whole milk, curds, butter, carrots, pumpkin, green leafy vegetables, tomatoes, mangoes and papaya. Foods rich in vitamin B2 are green leafy vegetables, milk, almonds, citrus fruits and tomatoes.

As regards local treatment to the eyes themselves, a cold foment renders almost immediate relief by chasing away an overactive local blood supply. The procedure is as follows : Fold a small hand towel. Saturate it with cold water. Squeeze out excess water and mould towelling gently over both eyes. Cover it with a piece of warm cloth to retain the temperature. Repeat the process as soon as the foment gets warmed. Carry out the procedure for one hour. After terminating the wet pack, cover the eyes with a dry towel. Lie back and relax. The damaged eye tissue will quickly return to normal. The treatment should be repeated every night for a week,even though the problem may clear up with the first treatment itself.

The patient should also resort to palming which is beneficial in removing strain and relaxing the eyes and its surrounding tissues. The procedure is as follows : Sit comfortably in an arm chair or on a settee and relax with your eyes closed. Cover your eyes with your palms, right palm over the right eye and the left over the left eye. Do not, however, press down on the eyes. With your eyes closed thus, try to imagine blackness which grows blacker. Palming reduces strain and relaxes the eyes and its surrounding tissues.

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