§ 285. Ophthalmia neonatorum.

This disease generally affects the eyelids only; if the inflammation should be violent, the conjunctiva and even the whole eye are sometimes invaded. At first one or both lids swell and close the eye. A few hours after the swelling commenced, a profuse secretion of mucus sets in from the Meibomian glands, which should not be confounded with pus. The cornea is sometimes attacked and remains dim for some time. I have seen blood discharged from the eyes previous to the secretion of mucus taking place. This may lead to important defects of the eye afterwards, and generally results from a constitutional dyscrasia. (See my cases, Arch. VI. 2, p. 30.)

Feeble infants which were not born at full term, are predisposed to such affections. Other predisposing causes are: bad diet, washing infants in unclean water, exposure to glaring light immediately after birth, infection during parturition with fluor albus, exposure to cold or draughts of air.

Slight cases are cured by frequently washing the eyes with a clean sponge dipped in tepid water. If this should not be sufficient, a little Aconite, and, if the disease should not entirely yield, Euphrasia have to be exhibited. Ignatia is likewise recommended by many.

If the disease should be attended with diarrhoea, soreness of the genitals, flaccidity of the muscles, miliary eruptions, restless sleep, etc., Chamomilla will prove useful in many cases, which sometimes requires to be followed by Belladonna. If the infant be at the breast, it is important to attend to the diet of the nurse or mother, and it will be found that Nux v., Puls, or Bryon are indicated; these remedies should then be given to the nursing female. The principal remedy, particularly when constitutional symptoms are present, is Sulphur, which only yields to Mercurius when the disease arises from contact with syphilitic fluor albus.