Case Studies: The Not So Ordinary

Conjunctivitis (Pink-eye)

In the words of Mr.X,

      On Friday morning my left eye felt a little irritated, as if an eyelash were in my eye. I rubbed as I have done a thousand times before, and it seemed to improve…at least temporarily.

      On Sunday morning the same sensation in my eye reappeared. I again, rubbed it. This time however the eye only proved tolerable. Several minutes later, probably 30 or 40 minutes, I was working on my computer as I usually do and the sensation had not improved, I rubbed it again. This time it hurt. My eye became red and irritated.

      I know rubbing your eyes is not acceptable but you have to do something, so I continued to rub. My eye became so irritated it was difficult to keep it open. I went to the bathroom and tried flushing my eye with cool water…no improvement. As the day progressed so did the pain and irritation in my eye.

     After flushing my eyes with cool water a couple of more times and there being no improvement, I tried lying down and closing my eyes. Now you need to remember it is Sunday morning and the Packers are going to play at noon. I tried to watch the pre-game show but could not keep my eyes open so I tried lying down again. 

     The sensation was as if there was something caught on my upper eye lid, perhaps a ‘dry spot’. My wife went to our local pharmacy and was given a clear solution for flushing your eyes and some lubricating drops. I was disappointed. The pain was such that I wanted something to numb my eyes. By this time the pain and ‘dry spot’ had moved to both eyes…probably out of sympathy.

     Later my wife noticed my left eye, the one with the original problem, was beginning to get a little puffy, or swollen. So we tried ice to reduce the swelling. This seemed to help me with opening my eyes but the pain was still there.  I could not open my eyes for more than just a few minutes, after the ice I was up to about 10 minutes.

     Finally, after researching all she could think of on the Internet, she called you.

According to Mrs. X, there was none of the discharge commonly associated with conjunctivitis, commonly known as “pink-eye”. External irritants had been excluded as the cause of the irritation. I attempted to ascertain over the phone what herbals they had at home that may be useful in the immediate treatment of the condition. Using what was readily available at the time, I recommended that she place warm, wet teabags over his eyes to ease the discomfort and swelling until she could bring him in to the clinic. I explained that there could be a number of causes of this type of inflammation according to Chinese Medicine theory and that it would be best to see him immediately at the clinic where I could conduct a thorough evaluation.

By the time the couple arrived at the clinic Mr. X was able to keep his eyes open for a substantially longer time than he was prior to the application of the teabags. Upon examination, both eyes were red. Mr. X’s left eye (upper eyelid) was puffy with redness of the upper and lower eyelid. Pulse and tongue diagnosis revealed an internal imbalance associated with the Liver (Chinese Medicine). I recommended a combination of Chinese herbal formulas that would alleviate the condition almost immediately. Additionally, I suggested that the condition be treated as a viral form of “pink-eye” according to the medical establishment following the protocols of adequate hand washing and use of separate amenities until after the condition had subsided.

     The morning came (Monday) and I could open my eyes with just a little irritation… a really minute amount, and I went to the shop. I had planned to stay just long enough to get a couple of things accomplished and then go home. By 2:00PM it dawned on me my eyes were fine! No irritation, no redness, no discomfort whatsoever.

Mr. and Mrs. X have been adamant for many years about not taking medications and avoiding doctors’ intervention except in the case of a life-threatening emergency.