Conjunctivitis refers to the inflammation of the conjunctiva, the thin transparent membrane covering the front of the eye. It is also known as “sore eyes” and is a very common form of eye trouble. It spreads from person to person through direct contract. Overcrowding, dirty surroundings and unhealthy living conditions can cause epidemics of this ailment.
The eyeball and under side of the eyelids become inflamed. At first, the eyes are red, dry and burning. Later, there may be a watery secretion. IN more serious cases, there is pus formation. During sleep, this material dries, making the eye-lashes stick together.
Medical science believes that conjunctivitis results from bacterial infection, viruses or eye-strain. Prolonged work under artificial light and excessive use of the eyes in one way or the other no doubt contributes towards the disease. But its real cause can be traced to a catarrh a condition of the system resulting from general toxaemia due to dietetic errors and faulty style of living .
The patient generally suffers from colds or other ailments indicative of a general catarrhal condition.
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 seven days. The diet may consist of fresh juicy fruits in season such as apple, orange, pears, grapes, pineapple and grapefruit. Banana should, however, not be taken. No other foodstuff should be added to this diet.
Those who have a serious trouble should undertake a juice fast for three or four days. The procedure is to take the juice of an orange, in a glass of warm water, if desired, every two hours from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. Nothing else should be taken as otherwise the value of the fast will be lost. If orange juice disagrees, carrot juice may be taken. A warm water enema should be taken daily during the period of fasting.
The short juice fast may be followed by an all-fruit diet for further seven days. Thereafter, the patient may adopt a general diet scheme on the following lines :-
Breakfast : Any fresh fruits in season, except bananas.
Lunch : Large mixed raw vegetable salad with whole meat bread or chapatis and butter.
Dinner : Two or three steamed vegetables, other than potatoes, with nuts and fresh fruit.
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 the intake of excessive quantities of meat and other protein and fatty foods, strong 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 juices of these two vegetables have proved very effective. 200 ml. of spinach juice should be mixed with 300 ml. of carrot juice in this combination.
Vitamin A and B2 have also been found valuable in the treatment of conjunctivitis. The patient should take liberal quantities of natural foods rich in these two vitamins. Valuable sources of vitamin A 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, bananas 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 toweling 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, treatment cover the eyes with a dry towel. Lie back and relax. The damaged eye tissues 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 eye muscle exercises outlined in chapter 33 on cataract and palming outlined in chapter 40 on defective vision are also beneficial in the treatment of conjunctivitis.