Eye Problems

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Finding a good herbalist

Many common eye problems have been seen to respond extremely well to herbal medicines and everything written about in this article may be entirely suitable for a person to work through themselves however, especially if there are other issues that need attention, or you need to be sure of getting the best quality herbs, there may be a great deal of benefit to you to go to whatever lengths necessary to find a good herbalist to help you and a short write-up to suggest how you might go about finding such a person is found here

Before I go on and mention some more specific issues, I want to share a formula along with the method of using it that I give to my own patients for virtually every kind of eye problem they get, for the simple reason that it works!

The action of the herbs in this formula are to clean, disinfect, tone and strengthen the tissues of the eyes. It may be broadly recommended to anyone who needs to improve the health of these most delicate, and vitally important, parts of our body.

an 'eye-cup', used to give an eye-bath


Eyebright Formula

Eyebright tincture 10mls                  
Chamomile 10mls                
Fennel tincture 5mls     
Makes 25mls in a bottle with a dropper.


Pour approximately 30-40mls of freshly boiled water into a small and clean receptacle, for example a medicine-measuring cup or an egg-cup. Then add 10-12 drops of the Eyebright formula. Leave the mixture to sit, uncovered, until the liquid has cooled to a comfortable temperature with which to bathe the eyes.

If it turns out that you have left it too long and it is too cool, add a little hot water from the kettle, if it hasn't cooled by the time you are ready, add a little cold water. The temperature is important, it should feel pleasantly warm on the eye, not too hot and not too cold.

Use a small clean eye-cup, as shown above, and pour in enough of the eyebright formula to fill it to about a third. Place the eye-cup over your eye to make a seal and then tilt your head back. Make sure you open and shut your eye a few times and look side to side and up and down whilst blinking in order to let the formula get everywhere it needs to go.

Discard the used solution and then put some more formula back into the eye-cup and repeat. Aim for two or more washes on each eye, putting fresh solution into the eye cup each time. Treat both eyes even if only one is obviously affected.

The whole process is quick and generally painless though it may smart for just a moment at the beginning, especially if there is any blockage or infection present. This is a very safe treatment and, so long as it is helping, it can be repeated as often as needed.

The key ingredient in the formula; Eyebright, works by cleaning the eye and at the same time having an 'astringent' action on the tissues. In effect, this means it acts to tone the surfaces of the eye and make it more resilient to stress or damage, more about Eyebright here. The essential oils in Chamomile work as a natural antibiotic and relieve inflammation; more here and the ingredients in Fennel have a soothing action on the irritated surface of the eye; more about Fennel here


Eye infections

Whether it be conjunctivitis, ('pink-eye'), or styes, or herpes simplex, or blepharitis, if the infection was quite severe or had been resistant to antibiotic treatment, I would consider modifying the above formula to include some Golden Seal; a most potent antimicrobial herb, more about it here

Eye Infection Formula

Eyebright tincture 10mls               
Chamomile tincture 5mls               
Fennel tincture 5mls
Golden Seal 5mls 

Use externally as directed in the Eyebright formula above. This treatment can be used multiple times a day to stop the problem from spreading and to quickly turn it around, often in just a day or two. A very young child can learn how to do the eye-bath technique as described above and prior to that I would make the preparation the same way and use a dropper to apply the liquid, but they will much prefer it if they can use the eye-cup.

If a person was getting recurrent eye infections then, as well as treating the eye once a day as a preventative treatment, they will need to carefully assess and potentially treat the general health of their immune system. This important subject is discussed in depth here


Baby eyes

Many babies get 'gunked-up' eyes in their early days or weeks. The best treatment is a few drops of breast-milk dropped into the eye and then gently wiped away from the nose side of the eye outwards.

The old practice of putting silver nitrate into the eyes of newborns has mostly been phased out but some hospitals still insist on it, even if there is no possible chance that the mother has had gonorrhoea. It will temporarily blind the baby and should be avoided if at all possible.


Eye Strain and weakness

A great many of us develop eye strain or weakness from our genetic make-up and/or habits and occupations. The Eyebright formula will definitely help with this if used consistently at least once a day.

It may be important to be aware of postural strains on the neck. An excess of pressure or tension in the neck can adversely affects eye health in numerous ways. Some of the suggestions in the article on back-pain may be of value in this area, this is found here

There is also a strong argument that using corrective lenses for eye-strain may not lead to a good outcome for the health and strength of the eyes over the long-term. This, like everything, will vary from one person to the next, but for someone who wanted to explore a different way to improve their eyesight, the pioneering work of William Blake may have much to offer. I think that the best way to access this material is through an author called Jonathan Barnes. His book 'Improve your Eyesight' has been in print for many years now and can easily be obtained new or very inexpensively second-hand.

There are a number of pleasant, safe and easy to use techniques in this method that many people, including the author, have found to be effective to the point of being able to dispense with their glasses. If a person was willing to give it a go, it could not hurt and might do much good.


Dry eyes

Dry eyes are a common problem with the potential to cause profound levels of discomfort. Blinking, like swallowing and a thousand other bodily functions, is something we never think about until something goes badly wrong, whereupon it becomes hard to think about much else!

Dry eyes can be caused by several medical conditions such as Xerophthalmia; usually associated with a deficiency in vitamin A, or Sjogren's syndrome; caused by an auto-immune condition, if you have Sjogren's then it may help to read the general article on auto-immunity here

If that is not the case, it might be important to know that another common cause for chronic dry eyes is a low thyroid function and, as this is a problem that frequently evades recognition, or is mistaken for something else, it may help to read the article on thyroid health here

However, the most common cause of chronic dry eye problems is simply some physical blockage or damage to the tear ducts, the lacrimal glands, in which case the regular and frequent use of the Eyebright formula as described above should be of much help.


Streaming eyes

Eyes that are frequently streaming or weeping may be responding to an allergic reaction to something in the environment.

As well as bathing with the Eyebright formula, it may help to drink a blend of herbs in an 'Allergy tea' to reduce sensitivity, more on the recipe and instructions for the tea here and also to consider the value of regularly cleansing the respiratory and sinus passageways with some regular 'steam cleaning' some simple instructions on how to go about that are found here


Eye damage

Damage to the eye from a foreign object, such as an insect, flying debris or some chemical exposure, is obviously a very serious matter that should receive emergency medical care. There are also some well-known natural methods to help, especially using a drop of Castor oil directly placed into the eye.

The following are some excerpts from three different medical herbalists from an international forum in response to the question... 'does anyone have any suggestions regarding stem cell damage to the lining on the sclera of the eye damage by a splash of bleach?'

'I have had success using goat’s milk decocted with licorice root. Use as an eye wash.  Or breast milk if it’s handy'

'Castor oil, dripped into the eyes at night and an eyewash of raspberry leaf tea in the morning. Castor oil eye drops are a beautiful thing and will usually take away the pain instantaneously'

'I agree that castor oil is excellent for the eyes and I suggest one drop castor oil drop at night. Also. make sure that the client is using a good quality castor oil and not the run of the mill store brand. Turn the head to the side and let the drops roll across the eye. Chamomile rinse in the morning'

Thomas Bartram reports from the New England Journal of Medicine vol 311, 6, p.413) about eye injuries from flashburns from welding where 'fresh aloe vera juice gave instant relief and speeded recovery' Bartram also says that, for eye wounds that refuse to heal, use a cotton wool pad saturated with Castor oil and applied overnight, he adds that bathing the eye with an infusion of Comfrey is 'especially commended to encourage epithelial healing'

One further point is that, if there is significant pain in the eye but there has been no obvious damage to it, consider the possibility that the underlying issue may be an undiagnosed infection in either the sinuses or the teeth.


Good looking eyes

The old saying that 'the eyes are the windows to the soul' is just one of many examples to illustrate why we instinctively care about how good looking are our eyes. Yellowed or blood-shot sclera (whites), red rims or heavy dark pouches under the eyes, for example, are all indicators to the world, and ourselves, that all is not well.

The Eyebright formula can always be recommended to brighten and clean the eyes but, if there is a chronic problem with the appearance of the eyes, then to get a good and lasting result, we need to look deeper into the health of the whole person.

Liver health has a deep impact on the health of the eyes. One of the many benefits of the humble Dandelion root is in how it can improve the look of a person's eyes when they have used it for a while. If the reason for the eyes looking poorly might be that some internal cleansing is required, then the article 'what is detoxification' could be the best place to start, it's here

Further to that, if you, the reader, want to delve deeper into the big, important, subject of your health, you may do well to follow an ancient method that starts by determining what constitution you are, whether you are a hotter, cooler, dryer or damper person, because an approach that works well for one person is not the right way for another. This deep and interesting subject is introduced further here

Euphrasia officinalis (Eyebright)

Please understand that I cannot personally advise you without seeing you in my clinic.
This living 'book' is my labour of love so, wherever you are, I wish you peace & good health!




© 2011 R.J.Whelan Ltd