Oogontsteking / Conjunctivitis / Blepharitis

Conjunctivitis is inflammation of the clear membrane that lines the eye. It is caused most commonly by infection from viruses or bacteria, or by an allergic reaction, though other causes exist, such as overexposure to sun, wind, smog, chlorine, or contact lens solution. Pinkeye is the common name for conjunctivitis. Blepharitis is inflammation of the eyelid; most commonly, it is caused by a bacterial infection.

Rating Nutritional Supplements Herbs

    • Vitamin A *

    • Calendula

    • Chamomile

    • Comfrey

    • Eyebright

    • Goldenseal

    • Oregon grape

What are the symptoms of conjunctivitis? Conjunctivitis and blepharitis may cause mild discomfort with tearing, itching, burning, light sensitivity, and thickening of the eyelids. They may also produce a crust or discharge, occasionally causing the eyelids to stick together during sleep. The eyes and eyelids may become red, but usually there is no blurring or change in vision.

Conventional treatment options: Doctors commonly prescribe ophthalmic (eye) medications in creams or drops, which may contain antibiotics (e.g., erythromycin, gentamicin, or sulfacetamide) for infection or corticosteroids for inflammation. Avoiding irritants, such as contact lenses or specific allergens, may also be recommended.

Nutritional supplements that may be helpful: Vitamin A deficiency has been reported in people with chronic conjunctivitis.1 It is unknown whether vitamin A supplementation can prevent conjunctivitis or help people who already have the condition.

Herbs that may be helpful: Several herbs have been traditionally used to treat eye inflammation. Examples include calendula, eyebright, chamomile, and comfrey. None of these herbs has been studied for use in conjunctivitis or blepharitis. As any preparation placed on the eye must be kept sterile, topical use of these herbs in the eyes should only be done under the supervision of an experienced healthcare professional.

Goldenseal and Oregon grape contain the antibacterial constituent known as berberine. While topical use of berberine in eye drops has been clinically studied for eye infections,2 the use of the whole herbs has not been studied for conjunctivitis or blepharitis.


1. Rankov BG. Vitamin A and carotene concentration in serum in persons with chronic conjunctivitis and pterygium. Int J Vitam Nutr Res 1976;46:454–7 [in German].

2. Babbar OP, Chatwal VK, Ray IB, et al. Effect of berberine chloride eye drops on clinically positive trachoma patients. Ind J Med Res 1982;76:83–8.

Phytother Res. 2002 Feb;16(1):1-22. A review of plant species used to treat conjunctivitis. Sharma P, Singh G.

Medicinal and Aromatic Plants Information Services, National Institute of Science Communication (CSIR), Dr. K. S. Krishnan Marg, New Delhi - 110012, India. Poonam_9@rediffmail.com


Conjunctivitis is a major occular external infection in tropical countries. Although not a very serious disease, it gives much discomfort and sometimes leads to partial blindness or blindness due to corneal involvement. Conjunctivitis has been known to occur in epidemic proportions in different parts of the world, mainly African and Asian regions. The indigenous cure of conjunctivitis using herbal products has been popular for centuries. This paper is an attempt to compile information on plants mentioned as a cure for conjunctivitis during ethnobotanical surveys between 1933 and 2000. Plants mentioned as a cure in various systems of medicine, namely Siddha and Ayurveda, are also included.

Bindvliesontsteking[6] of conjunctivitis is een ontsteking van het bindvlies dat de buitenkant van het oogwit en de binnenkant van de oogleden bekleedt. Dit kan ruwweg door drie groepen oorzaken ontstaan:

  • allergisch, als reactie op een stof waarvoor de lijder overgevoelig is, vaak stuifmeel van planten (pollen) of haren of huidschilfers van hond of kat (hooikoorts). Hiervoor bestaan hooikoortsmedicijnen. Hierbij treedt vooral jeuk, roodheid, en overvloedig tranen op, meestal ook met symptomen van de neus zoals niezen en veel dun snot.

  • bacterieel; deze vorm kenmerkt zich in het algemeen door meer pus en pijn en is te behandelen met oogzalf met de juiste antibiotica, bij voorkeur chlooramfenicol of in speciale gevallen fusidinezuur (tegen deze laatste zijn veel stammen inmiddels resistent).

  • viraal; deze vorm geeft meestal alleen een vervelend gevoel en roodheid; pus en afscheiding staan hierbij minder op de voorgrond. Behandeling is in het algemeen niet mogelijk en de ziekte gaat na een paar dagen tot weken vanzelf over.

The use of herbs is a time honored approach to strengthening the body and treating disease. Herbs, however, can trigger side effects and can interact with other herbs, supplements, or medications. For these reasons, you should take herbs with care, under the supervision of a health care provider trained in botanical medicine. Compresses and eye washes are external treatments.

A trained herbal practitioner may prescribe an herbal eyewash. The following are some examples of the herbs used in these treatments. Do not attempt these treatments on your own. You should use these treatment only under the supervision of a trained practitioner.

  • Eyebright (Euphrasia officinalis): helps fight infection and dry up excess fluid

  • Chamomile (Matricaria recutita): helps fight infection

  • Fennel seed (Foeniculum vulgare): helps fight infection

  • Marigold (Calendula officinalis): soothes irritation

  • Plantain (Plantago lanceolata, P. major): astringent and soothing. The fresh leaves are the most effective plant part.

Other herbal treatments may include:

  • Grated fresh potato has astringent (drying and disinfecting) properties.

  • Ginkgo biloba extract with hyaluronic acid. Use of an eyewash made of this solution for one month showed a significant decrease in symptoms of conjunctivitis compared to hyaluronic acid alone.

Premade herbal eyewashes are available in many health food stores. Many of them contain diluted solutions of goldenseal (Hydrastis Canadensis), which in undiluted forms can be extremely irritating to the eye. Follow manufacturer's directions carefully.

Russo V, Stella A, Appezzati L, et al. Clinical efficacy of a Ginkgo biloba extract in the topical treatment of allergic conjunctivitis. Eur J Ophthalmol. 2009;19(3):331-6.

Stoss M, Michels C, Peter E, Beutke R, Gorter RW. Prospective cohort trial of Euphrasia single-dose eye drops in conjunctivitis. J Altern Complement Med. 2000 Dec;6(6):499-508.

Source: Conjunctivitis | University of Maryland Medical Center http://umm.edu/health/medical/altmed/condition/conjunctivitis#ixzz3GcAiWQnE

University of Maryland Medical Center

Studies that support the use of honey for eye infections

In this study, the application of honey significantly reduced the amount of bacteria found on and around the eye in patients that suffer from dry eyes.This study notes that honey is being ” ‘rediscovered’ by the medical profession, particularly where conventional modern therapeutic agents have failed. Recent published reports describe the effectiveness of honey in rapidly clearing wound infection with minimal adverse effects, and also possible in promoting healing with minimal scar formation. Honey also has antimicrobial action against a broad spectrum of bacteria and fungi, both in laboratory studies and in humans. Its use in the eye ranges from treating post-herpetic corneal opacities, local conjunctival lesions and corneal edema with variable results.” http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2813592/

Also, though it is not not a study “there is evidence that the ancient Egyptians used honey to treat eye diseases, the Greek philosopher Aristotle is credited with being among the first to record medicinal use of honey for the eyes as far back as 350 B.C. Honey was also widely used in India to treat eye disease and has been used by traditional healers in Mali to prevent scarring of the cornea in cases of measles. There is also evidence that honey was used by the medieval English to treat eye diseases.”

What kind of honey should I use?

While many kinds of honey have demonstrated antibacterial, antiviral and anti-inflammatory properties, manuka honey is thought to be particularly potent due to high levels of the compound dihydroxyacetone. Personally, I use local, organically raised


  • 1/4 teaspoon raw honey

  • 1/4 cup pure water

  • pinch of salt (optional)

Dissolve raw honey and optional salt in pure warm water. Don’t get the water too hot or it may destroy some of the beneficial properties of the water. If your water is not super pure (reverse osmosis, distilled, etc), consider boiling it and allowing it to cool before creating your mixture. Using a clean dropper, place a 1-2 drops in each eye every few hours as needed.