This section is from the book "The Home Hand-Book of Domestic Hygiene and Rational Medicine. Volume 2.", by J. H. Kellogg, M.D.. Also available from Amazon: The Home Hand-Book of Domestic Hygiene and Rational Medicine, Volume 2.
This disease is also sometimes called contagious inflammation of the eye, as it is clearly a contagious disease. The symptoms are similar to those of the preceding disease, but are greatly intensified. At the beginning, the patient suffers with heat and itching in the eye, as if sand, or some other foreign body, had gotten into it; the edges of the lids stick together, and little beads of matter collect on the lower edge and at the comers of the lids, and become hardened; the mucous membrane is very red and much swollen, and the eyelids are red and thickened; the discharge is at first watery, but soon becomes purulent or mattery. The patient now begins to suffer great pain about the eye and adjoining portions of the head; there is sometimes considerable fever; the eye is very sensitive to light; the mucous membrane becomes rough in appearance. This is one of the most dangerous affections of the eye, as the cornea is very likely to become affected by ulceration, which may often perforate the eye, causing a discharge of its contents. The disease generally runs its course in three or four weeks. It sometimes becomes chronic, and lasts months and even years. The causes are the same as those which produce catarrhal ophthalmia. When it breaks out in foundling hospitals, barracks, work-houses, boarding-schools, and similar places, it is likely to extend on account of its contagiousness. It is so common in India and Egypt that it is sometimes called Egyptian ophthalmia. The disease generally shows itself in one to four days from the time of exposure. The supposition that this or any other disease of the eye may be communicated by simply looking at a person suffering with it, is erroneous. It is necessary that little particles of the discharge find their way from the diseased eye to a healthy one in order to communicate it. Communication is often accomplished by means of towels, sponges, etc.; but particles may be carried by the air. It should be generally known that the inflammation of the eyes to which new-born children are subject -may produce purulent inflammation of the eye in either children or adults.