This section is from the book "Smith's Family Physician", by William Henry Smith. See also: Natural Physician's Healing Therapies: Proven Remedies that Medical Doctors Don't Know.
Acute Ophthalmia may be caused by dust or lime or any other irritating substance getting into the eye, or by cold, a blow, etc. There is usually smarting, heat, stiffness, and dryness of the eye, with a feeling as if dust had got into it, and the inside of the eyelids of a bright scarlet redness; slight intolerance of light, and flow of tears on exposure of the eye; and more or less headache and fever.
A few leeches to the temples; an emetic if the stomach is foul; followed by a black draught, or some other cathartic. The eye to be frequently bathed with decoction of Poppy Heads, or warm (not hot) water. After a day or two, a lotion of Goulard Water may be used, and the edges of the eyelids may be smeared at night with weak Red Precipitate Ointment, (two grains of Red Precipitate very finely powdered to one dram of Spermaceti Ointment.) A green shade should be worn over both eyes, as long as the light is at all painful. After the bowels are cleared out, the patient should live well.
Chronic inflammation of the eyelids may be a sequel of the acute, or may be caused by some local irritation, such as inverted eyelashes, or by some derangement of the health.
All local sources of irritation should be removed. The general health should be attended to; blisters should be put behind the ears; the eye may be washed several times a day with Goulard Water, with the addition of five drops of Laudanum to each ounce of the lotion; and the edges of the eyelids should be smeared at night with weak Citrine Ointment.
Purulent Ophthalmia is the most violent form of inflammation of the lining of the eyelids and covering of the eye, and is attended with a thick, purulent discharge, which comes on in from twenty-four to forty-eight hours after its commencement.
As this complaint may lead to loss of sight if not promptly and properly attended to, it is necessary that the patient should at once get the assistance of a competent surgeon.
Inflammation of the whole eye is a rare disease. It may be caused by severe injuries, or may be a consequence of the common Ophthalmia, if neglected.