Eye infections can be a major problem, especially in larger families. They can be passed back and forth from person to person if you are not extremely cautious. Some people are also prone to recurrence, due to a poor immune system, or other factors such as cleanliness.
Alternative treatments for eye infections
When anyone in my family gets an eye infection, such as pink eye (also known as conjunctivitis), I use herbs such as eyebright, or goldenseal. All I have to do is hold a compress on my eye, or wash my eye with either of these, and it seems to work for me. It sometimes takes longer with the children, but it still works better than the drops the doctor gives, which burn terribly and can take weeks to be effective.
Good to its name, eyebright usually does the trick, but when an infection seems persistent or reoccurring, I use goldenseal (normally a more expansive herb) instead. Though no medical proof of this has yet been discovered, goldenseal seems to have blood cleansing and antibiotic properties which target any underlying infection or immune deficiencies that might be complicating matters.
Goldenseal can be taken internally as well, so often I will use it in conjunction with eyebright compresses. If I cannot get goldenseal, I simply use the eyebright, and follow up with another immune booster, such as echinacea, though I still prefer goldenseal for its potential blood purification abilities.
Anytime you are using herbal infusions around the eye area you must be sure any small particles of the herb have been thoroughly strained out of the mixture. It can take several instances of straining to do this, but it is especially important if you plan to drop the solution into the eyes, instead of using a compress.
In addition to this, echinacea and goldenseal should not be taken for long periods of time. I suggest not taking either for more than two weeks at a time, because you can become immune to the immune boosters themselves. If more time is needed, simply take a week or two away from these medications, then resume again for two additional weeks. This and other concerns regarding these two herbs are addressed at herbcraft.org/commonherbs.
The importance of cleanliness in all things regarding the eyes cannot be stressed enough. Failure to keep both hands and implements used clean at all times can result in worsening and/or recurrence of infection. As always, consult your physician if you are on other medications, encase they could potentially have a bad interaction with these herbs.