Belladonna is employed in affections of the eye with two objects; one to diminish the sensibility of the retina or optic nervous centre, and the other to dilate the pupil. With the first object, it may be employed in that not uncommon condition of the eye, in which, altogether independently of inflammation, light is extremely painful to it, and, though the vision is in no degree impaired, the use of the organ for any length of time is impossible, in consequence of the pain induced. It has also been advised in the similar sensitiveness which attends ophthalmia; though its appropriateness, in the latter condition, is more equivocal.

For the dilatation of the pupil belladonna is much used by the surgeons. It is the local application of it that is resorted to for this purpose. The infusion of the leaves, or solution of the extract may be dropped into the eye, or the extract itself, mixed with a little water or lard, may be rubbed upon the eyelids and around them. By many atropia is preferred for the purpose on account of cleanliness. The dilatation usually begins in about half an hour, is at its height in three or four hours, and may continue one or two days or longer.

The objects in producing dilatation with it are manifold. Before the operation for cataract, it is useful by removing the iris out of the way; and, after the operation, has been recommended, in order to prevent the adhesion of the iris and obliteration of the pupil, which might result from inflammation of that membrane. In operations which involve a wound of the iris, it is supposed to be indicated upon the same score. It is said that even in partial or complete obliteration of the pupil already produced, if recent, the remedy will obviate the evil by causing a separation of the adhesions while still soft. In iritis, either exclusive, or attendant upon conjunctivitis, it has been recommended with the same view of obviating obliteration of the pupil. In cases of commencing cataract, it is sometimes temporarily serviceable by bringing within reach of the light the yet unaffected portions of the lens nearest the circumference. In opacity of the cornea, moreover, in which vision is obstructed by the position of the opacity immediately before the pupil, it occasionally restores sight for a time by dilating that orifice, so that the light passing the transparent parts of the cornea may enter it.

Belladonna has been used for other purposes besides those mentioned. It has been recommended in scarlet fever, both as a remedy and prophylactic. I have no confidence in its efficiency in either capacity. Its use was suggested by the originator of the homoeopathic delusion, upon the basis of one of his dogmas, that diseases are cured by remedies the effects of which resemble the disease itself. Belladonna causes dryness and irritation of the fauces, and sometimes a rash like that of scarlet fever; therefore it is the appropriate remedy for that complaint. If it be capable of acting remedially, it is probably capable also of preventing the disease. Such is the rationale of its use. Though I would accept a useful fact from the homoeopathists, or any other class of men whatever, or from any source whatever, I should be disposed to subject it to a close scrutiny before admitting its claims to be a fact. I think that many in our profession have been somewhat too hasty in adopting this scion of a false hypothesis. It is true that, in many instances, numbers of children to whom belladonna has been administered, have escaped scarlatina though exposed to the cause; but nothing is more common than a similar result where belladonna has not been given. Every one knows, who has seen much of this disease, that it is extremely capricious in its choice of subjects, sometimes attacking all the children of a family, and not unfrequently seizing upon one only of a large number equally exposed to the cause; so that the exemption, under the circumstances referred to, might well have taken place, though no preventive had been used. Besides, numerous trials have been made by persons quite as deserving of credit, in which the use of belladonna has entirely failed in securing the desired exemption, which could not have happened were it possessed of the power ascribed to it. The mistake might be a very fatal one, if, in reliance upon the prophylactic virtues of belladonna, other means of securing exemption, such as common sense would suggest, should be neglected.

The medicine is asserted to possess antaphrodisiac properties, and to be useful in priapism, chordee, and other irritated conditions of the sexual organs. It probably operates here, like other narcotics in the secondary stage of their action, by diminishing the sensibility of the nervous centres.

Another application made of belladonna is to arrest the secretion of milk, when the infant is from any cause withdrawn from the breast. For this purpose a solution of the extract, or an ointment made by rubbing it with lard, may be applied to the areola and around it. The distended and painful breast is said to be thus greatly relieved, and the practice has been extensively adopted But the remedy is by no means uniformly efficient (Bost. Med. and Surg. Journ., lviii. 487, and lix. 80); and a case has been recorded in which serious poisoning was produced by the application made to an abraded breast {Lancet, Nov. 11, 1865, p 536). Care, therefore, must be taken that the extract should be used in this way only when the cuticle is unbroken.

The local application of belladonna in the form Of tincture, or of liniment made with the extract and lard, has been recommended by Mr. Cooke, of Scarborough, England, as affording great relief in erysipelas, inflamed chilblains, boils, and carbuncles. (Med. Times and Gaz., July, 1858, p. 126).

Another local application of belladonna which has been recommended is for the relief of the tenesmus of dysentery. For this purpose the extract or atropia may be used, in the form of a suppository made by incorporating it with cacao butter.