CHILDRENS PROBLEMS: THE EYES

CARE OF THE EYES

The eyes, like most organs in the body, do not need particular attention because they are capable of maintaining their own well-being. However, the eyes are less well-protected than many other organs in the body, and much more open to the environment. They are remarkably delicate and sensitive and therefore demand a little more respect than other organs.

RECOMMENDATIONS

Ensure adequate sleep and rest.

Avoid the use of eye drops unless specifically required. Tears are the eyes’ best cleanser and protector.

Consider the use of corrective lenses (glasses or contact lenses) for any visual defects.

Rest the eyes through the day by using the palming technique .

Each morning and evening, splash the eyes 20 times with hot water and 20 times with cold water to encourage fresh blood flow.

BLACK EYE

A black eye is not strictly a problem of the eye but of the surround. The skin of the face attaches around the eye socket (orbit) such that any bruising that occurs cannot drain further than around the eyes. Trauma to any part of the head from the lower part of the orbit upwards and backwards that causes bleeding will gravitate downwards and form blue/black rings around the eyes.

RECOMMENDATIONS

Any head trauma that leads to damage or pain of the eye or concussion must be reviewed by a doctor.

The homeopathic remedy Arnica, potency 6 or 12, can be used every hour for three doses and then every 4hr until discomfort is relieved.

The long-established practice of placing raw steak over a black eye generally seems to reduce the severity and the longevity of discolouration but I know of no scientific reason why this should be the case!

Swelling in association with a black eye will be relieved by ice packs. Avoid prolonged contact with excessive cold to the eyeball itself.

CONJUNCTIVITIS

Conjunctivitis can occur at any age but is most commonly found in children because of their frequent touching of eyes and eyelids and the highly infectious nature of most of the bacteria and viruses that cause conjunctivitis.

Conjunctivitis is characterised by redness, grit-tiness or burning and occasionally swelling of the lining of the eyelids.

See Blepharitis.

RECOMMENDATIONS

Bathe the eyes in milk, preferably breast milk if available.

Consider the use of Euphrasia (eyebright) mother tincture by applying one drop to an egg cup full of water (preferably boiled and then cooled). This can be placed in an eye bath or applied with a dropper. Bathing the child’s eye with cotton wool soaked in this solution and then gently but firmly prising open the eyelids will allow some of the fluid to enter.

Review the homeopathic remedies Rhus toxicodendron, Staphysagria, Arsenicum album, Aconite and Mercurius.

Beta-carotene (2mg per foot of height) in divided doses through the day will speed recovery.

DISCHARGES FROM THE EYES

The eyes of babies are frequently associated with discharge. A not infrequent reason is a blocked duct that drains the tears from the eye through a small tube into the nose. Sometimes this nasolacrimal duct remains closed and requires surgical opening. A persisting watery or discharging eye should be looked at by a specialist.

Mild redness of the eyelids, red veins in the white of the eye, a discharge that is coloured (yellow or green usually) or persisting crusting can be treated initially at home.

A discharge from the eye usually represents a conjunctivitis , infection of the lacrimal gland or ducts or, more rarely, causes such as an embedded foreign body in the eyeball.

DOUBLE VISION

Establishing double vision in an infant or child before he/she can speak or show signs, such as bumping into door frames or trying to pick up an object by grasping the air beside it, is nearly impossible. Any suggestion of a visual defect, which also includes responding to Mum’s face whilst looking at her ear, should be brought to the attention of a physician or optometrist immediately.

See Squint if you notice that your child’s eyes point in different directions.

RECOMMENDATION

RECOMMENDATIONS

Breast milk, carrying natural immunoglobulins, can be dropped into the eye four times a day. Standard cow’s milk can be used in the same way.

Do not use chemical preparations or naturopathic herbal solutions without the support and advice of a naturopathic practitioner, although a weak solution of chamomile tea can be tried and is soothing and effective.

The homeopathic remedy Rhus Toxicodendron 6, one pill every 2hr, can be administered.

Any eye condition persisting for longer than 24hr should be seen by a professional.

Persisting eye infections may be an early indication of allergies or food intolerances and this possibility should be mentioned to your naturopathic physician.

Any painful or persistent discharge should be reviewed by a GP.

Cleansing the eyes with a diluted Euphrasia (eyebright) solution can be employed.

Specific homeopathic or herbal treatment can be used, depending on the cause. Remedies to review are Pulsatilla, Kali bichromicum and Mercurius. • Please obtain professional guidance on any visual problem in an infant.

DRY EYES

Chronic dry eyes may represent underlying disease such as sarcoidosis and other autoimmune conditions. These need to be treated appropriately after diagnosis from a doctor or eye specialist.

Acute dry eyes may be treated with the recommendations below, provided that relief and cure are forthcoming within a short period of time.

RECOMMENDATIONS

Persisting or painful dry eyes must be reviewed by a doctor.

Avoid artificial tears, which contain chemicals, and in preference use milk or Euphrasia eye drops.

Ensure good oral hydration by drinking at least three pints of water per day.

Avoid eye make-up or, if this is unavoidable, ensure that it is thoroughly washed off as often as possible and certainly do not leave eye makeup on through the night.

Persisting cases may respond to homeopathic remedies and the following should be reviewed: Sulphur, Petroleum, Silica and Causticum.

EXCESSIVE WATERING OF THE EYES

The lacrimal glands produce tears that should drain through a small hole and tube in the corner of the eye that leads into the nasal passage.

Up to 50 per cent of children may be born with a blockage in this duct and less than two per cent have a permanent blockage requiring surgical intervention. Older children and adults may have a foreign body or inflammation from infection or trauma creating a blockage.

Inflammation

Inflammation of the external eyelid is a common site for eczema .

Inflammation of the internal aspect of the eyelid is conjunctivitis .

RECOMMENDATIONS

RECOMMENDATIONS

Trauma, injury or infection should be reviewed by a complementary medical practitioner with knowledge in this area and an eye specialist’s opinion should be obtained if treatment does not resolve the problem within a matter of days.

Trauma to the side of the nose or infection may require more urgent treatment and a medical opinion should be obtained, although antibiotics should be avoided until alternative measures have failed.

The homeopathic remedy Silica is effective in dealing with infected or blocked drainage ducts. Silica 6 should be taken every 2hr.

Gentle massage from the corner of the eye down the side of the nose may relieve the blockage.

EYELIDS

The eyelids are a remarkably important part of the body. They are protective and busy (blinking every 5-8 seconds).

They are coloured to attract attention and similarly this may reflect the health of an individual. Darkened or swollen lower eyelids are a reflection of anything from tiredness through water retention to kidney problems. Many people are born with darkened or swollen eyelids and will maintain them through their lifetime and this is not an indication of ill-health, but a development of ‘bags’ under the eyes should be reviewed by a complementary medical practitioner initially. The Eastern philosophies of medicine correlate the colour under the eyes to our energy stores, specifically kidney energy.

See Eczema and Conjunctivitis.

Resist applying any make-up to this area until a treatment course has been set.

Lumps

Lumps on or in the eyelids may simply be a reflection of the skin condition, such as a wart or a pimple, but are best reviewed by a physician because of the potential spread of infection into the eye and also because of conditions such as skin cancers that may appear anywhere. Lumps that are specific to the eyelids are meibomian cysts or xanthelasmata.

Meibomian cyst (Chalazions) Meibomian glands are found in the rim of the eyelids and produce a secretion that contains many immunoglobulins and protective immune factors. These glands have small ducts that can become blocked, which leads to the secretion being unable to leave and causes a swelling along the eyelid rims. Rarely are these painful but they do have a tendency to become infected and may develop into styes .

Very often meibomian cysts will reabsorb, but if not treatment may be required.

RECOMMENDATIONS

The homeopathic remedies Staphysagria or Thuja can be used at potency 6, four pills every 3hr for five days.

Surgical intervention by ophthalmic surgeons is rarely required but a growing, cosmetically unacceptable or painful meibomian cyst should be seen by such a specialist.

See Styes opposite.

Styes

Styes usually occur as a red, itchy or painful swelling caused by bacteria proliferating in an eyelash root cell or a meibomian cyst.

Styes are usually self-limiting but recurrent infections may require medical examination for underlying problems such as diabetes or other immunosuppressant conditions.

Styes commonly found in children are often to do with mild malnutrition and occur during growth spurts.

RECOMMENDATIONS

Bathe the eye in milk.

Hot and cold compress application can bring the boil to a head and allow easier discharge.

Euphrasia eye drops can be used.

The homeopathic remedies Pulsatilla, Rhus toxicodendron, Apis and Staphysagria should all be reviewed.

Ensure correct hygiene by washing your hands because styes tend to be very easily transmitted.

A multivitamin/mineral supplement should be administered to a child who is not eating at least three portions of fruit or vegetables each day.

Twitching eyelids

A twitch anywhere is representative of a trapped, irritated, inflamed or damaged nerve. This may occur in the central nervous system (brain or spinal column) or at the neuromuscular junction. Most twitches are short-lived and of no consequence, but others may be a warning or a result of nerve damage or, more commonly, deficiencies.

RECOMMENDATIONS

A persisting twitch should be reviewed by a complementary medical practitioner initially and then, if no improvement is forthcoming, a neurological specialist.

Consider any deficiencies that may have arisen, specifically calcium, magnesium, copper and B-complex vitamins, all of which are necessary for the correct and smooth functioning of nerves and their muscular connections.

Gentle massage around the eyelid and also the nape of the neck may be relieving.

Cranial osteopathy, craniosacral therapy and acupuncture may be employed once more serious causes have been eliminated.

A nervous twitch brought on by stress is best dealt with through hypnosis and counselling.

The homeopathic remedy Agaricus 6 taken hourly may be of benefit, as may the remedy Codeinum.

FOREIGN BODIES AND SUBSTANCES IN THE EYE

Foreign bodies

A foreign body that is not easily removable by flushing the eye with fluid from a dropper bottle or blinking in water in an eye bath or the palms of the hand or by a clean piece of tissue paper must be taken to a doctor. Any object that is embedded in the eyeball or is causing bleeding in the conjunctiva and is not removable by fingers must, once again, be dealt with by a medical practitioner.

It is unwise to use instruments such as tweezers because the sensitivity of the eye makes the patient very jumpy and further damage probable.

RECOMMENDATIONS

Seek medical attention if the object is not easily removable.

Commence the patient on Aconite 6, two tablets every lOmin, and gently massage the other eyeball through the eyelid because the eyes move in conjunction with each other and the gentle movement may dislodge the object.

Foreign substances substance should only be washed out with water. • The homeopathic remedies Apis and Belladonna, potency 6, can be given every 15min until the discomfort is settled or medical advice is sought.

INFLAMMATION OF THE EYES

Inflammation of the eyelids is known as conjunctivitis . Inflammation of the eyes themselves falls into two divisions: iritis, (inflammation of the iris); or scleritis (inflammation of the whites of the eyes).

Both iritis and scleritis may be associated with underlying conditions such as autoimmune disease or venereal disease, and a persistence in either of these problems must be investigated fully as soon as possible.

Iritis

The symptoms of iritis are pain and redness around the central coloured part of the eye.

This is often associated with visual disturbance, such as blurring, photophobia, aching eyes or headaches. Persistent iritis requires medical attention because the inflammation can cause a blockage of the channels between the anterior and posterior ‘humours’ (fluids), which can lead to an increase in pressure known as glaucoma. Damage to the iris may affect vision (very rarely causing blindness) and encourages the development of cataracts.

RECOMMENDATIONS

RECOMMENDATIONS

Identify the foreign substance that has infiltrated the eye, keeping any bottles available for inspection by a doctor if necessary.

Regardless of the acidity or alkalinity of the compound, the eye should only be flushed with water under a gently running tap or from a dropper bottle of water or saline.

After a thorough flushing with water, any remnants of an acidic substance should be counteracted by bathing the eye in milk. An alkaline

Very severe or prolonged (longer than 4hr) iritis should be seen by a doctor.

Bathe the eye with milk or Euphrasia eye drops every hour.

Use the homeopathic remedy Aconite 6 every 15min at the onset of an attack.

Consider the homeopathic remedies Euphrasia,

Mercurius corrosivus, Rhus toxicodendron, Arnica and Hamamelis by referring to your preferred homeopathic textbook.

Scleritis

Scleritis is a less serious condition than iritis although, if left untreated, this red, dull aching of the white of the eye may run the risk of affecting the retina at the back of the eye or even perforating it, running the risk of the loss of fluid from the eye or allowing infection in.

RECOMMENDATIONS

A persisting scleritis or one that is particularly painful should be reviewed by a physician.

Aconite 6 should by taken every 2hr.

Use milk or Euphrasia eye drops as frequently as every 3hr.

Food allergy and allergy to airborne matter must be excluded if the problem persists.

INJURIES TO THE EYE – See Black eye and Foreign bodies and substances in the eye. Injury to the eye occurs from a direct blow, from penetration of the eyeball by a foreign object or from foreign matter on the surface.

Any crush or penetrating injury must be tended to by an eye specialist. Injuries that cause leakage of fluids from the eye into the bloodstream can trigger an antibody response that could cause the body to attack the other eye. This may lead to blindness and needs to be considered and treated immediately.

RECOMMENDATIONS

If commonsense and simple procedures can remove a foreign object from the eye, then proceed. If not, seek medical attention immediately.

The injured eye should be covered and gentle pressure applied if there is marked bleeding. Avoid pressure if a foreign body has penetrated the eye.

Ice wrapped in a flannel may be applied if it is soothing.

Bathing the eye in milk or Euphrasia may be relieving.

A patch or blindfold over both eyes may prevent the other, non-injured eye from moving quite so much. Because the eyes move in unison, as little movement as possible is preferable.

Any persistence of discomfort or visual disturbance should, once again, be examined by an eye specialist.

Pain in the eyes

Any pain that does not have an obvious cause or does not fall into any of the categories mentioned must be reviewed by a doctor.

Use Aconite 6 every lOmin for an eye pain whilst awaiting diagnosis.

Once a diagnosis has been established, treat accordingly.

Palming

Palming is one of the Bates’ eye exercises designed to give the eyes a rest. The eye muscles, perhaps more so than any other muscles in the body, are constantly in action and therefore tire more easily. This is why when we are tired we find it difficult to keep the eyes open.

The technique of palming allows the eye muscles to relax thoroughly because the technique excludes any light entering the eyes, thereby allowing complete dilation of the pupil, which is the equivalent to full relaxation of the pupillary muscles:

Keeping the eyes open, place the palms of the hand over the eye sockets.

Move the palms until no cracks of light can be seen around the edges.

Stare straight ahead for 3 minutes, blinking as required.

After 3 minutes close the eyes, remove the palms and open the eyes, ensuring not to look directly into bright light.

SQUINT OR STRABISMUS (LAZY EYE) The definition of strabismus is an abnormality of the eyes in which the visual axes do not meet at the desired objective point. Put more simply, it means that one eye will be fixed on an object whilst the other is looking elsewhere. This is due to uncoordinated action of the extrinsic ocular muscles, which control eye movement.

A squint in an infant is hard to assess because very often the eyes move independently for the first three months. If a child has apparently got convergent or divergent eyes after three months, then a specialist opinion is recommended. At a young age, two visual pictures will be sent to the ocular part of the brain and this is very confusing. The brain will select one, not the other, and the eye whose vision is being rejected will effectively become useless. This is known as a lazy eye and is the reason why expert advice is needed.

A squint developing at a later age (including those that develop in adulthood) may be associated with more serious conditions, such as diabetes, neuromuscular conditions like myasthenia gravis or even brain tumours.

Techniques such as patching the eye may be less common with the advent of more accurate eye surgery. This includes tightening or releasing the muscles around the eye to allow a better control.

Specific eye exercises, such as Bates’ methods, can be utilized before surgery is contemplated.

The homeopathic remedies, Gelsemium, Hyoscyamus, Belladonna, Stramonium and Zinc may all be useful at high potency over a period of two weeks. Prescribing should be done by a homeopath for the most benefit.

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