Treating Eye Complaints With Homoeopathy
An expression that I'm sure many of you are familiar with is "the eyes are the window of the soul"! Let this be a reminder to take heed of your equine companion's state of health by paying close daily attention to his eyes. Your horse's eyes will reflect a lot about both his mental and physical condition, revealing telltale signs if something may be amiss. Obvious physical expressions of unwellness include a glassy appearance, dullness, redness, swelling, lachrymation (tearing) and other discharges, itching/ irritation, small whitish marks or other irregularities on the surface of the eye, irregular pupil size, eye closing, aversion to touch, and photophobia (light sensitivity).
Mental expressions can often be more in evidence than physical signs of any impending imbalance. The horse may exhibit fear, anger, sadness, aversion to company where he used to desire it, over-excitement, reluctance to work, pain or discomfort, inappetence, listlessness, new habits, etc, all of which can be seen by reading his eyes, facial expression, and body language. When you have made an intimate connection with your horse you will experience changes in his wellbeing often preceding the physical evidence that things are not as they should be.
Not only is a daily inspection and reading of
your horse useful to keep tuned into his level of general health
and wellbeing but if something seems out of character then you should
never hesitate to discuss any concerns with your veterinarian. Eye
conditions, or injuries, should always be treated with utmost respect.
Damage to this fragile and delicate structure can rapidly turn into
a very serious condition, even when displaying only subtle signs
of trouble. Delay in treatment can result in very upsetting consequences.
Injuries to the eye are commonly encountered. Your horse may receive a blunt blow type of injury from a kick or a bump with a stable door. Just a simple poke from a piece of hay, or a foreign body such as an oat husk can cause significant damage. As the result of damage, i.e. a scratch, the initial irritation can lead to further abrasion of the eye, especially if there is a lack of moisture in the eye or if the patient rubs the eye. Consequently, an ulcer may develop. If you have nothing to offer for first aid treatment before a visit from your veterinarian other than water and salt, use it. A saline solution for bathing the eyes can provide valuable moisture and a degree of lubrication, while at the same time helping to cleanse. Use tepid, sterile, purified water only, such as cooled boiled filtered, and distilled, or bottled spring water and add 1/4 teaspoon of salt to a cup of water. The saline rinse can be applied 3-4 times daily. Effective therapeutic eye rinses are to be found in the remedy section to follow.
To prevent further irritation and assist healing, it is advisable to keep your horse indoors in a quiet, dark stall, have him wear a well-fitted eyemask/ flyveil or blinkers with a cover to protect from glare and bumping, keep dust levels to a minimum, and shelter from wind or draughts.
Inflammations such as conjunctivitis (inflammation of the conjunctiva), or dacryocystitis (inflammation of the lachrymal sac, the.tear duct) are generally the product of infectious agents, trauma, dirt/ dust, allergies, and chronic illness. The swelling of the eyelids in chronic conjunctivitis can develop entropion where the eyelid turns in causing the eyelashes to rub and irritate the eyeball. Where an acute episode occurs and you have attempted home treatment, if you don't see a timely response you should seek expert assistance!
Iritis (inflammation of the iris), keratitis (inflammation of the cornea), and ophthalmia (inflammation of all the structures within the eye) will demand early attention to help avoid ulceration and corneal opacities, and especially any dilation of the general structures of the eye (hydrophthalmia) causing increased volume where it is important to decrease any intraocular tension.
A leading cause of blindness in horses is Equine Recurrent Uveitis (ERU), or recurrent inflammation of the inner eye (uvea), also known as Periodic Ophthalmia, Recurrent Iridocyclitis, or Moon Blindness (since recurrence often appears with phases of the moon). As the name suggests, acute episodes can become a series of repeat attacks. Each subsequent attack will lead to increased residual damage leading ultimately to blindness. These episodes can be encountered in one or both eyes with an interval of weeks to years. Early treatment is essential to help modify the course of this disease.
There are considered to be several inciting causes
to ERU but this is not always identifiable for every case. Possibilities
include trauma and bacterial, viral, fungal, parasitic, and other
systemic diseases. The pathophysiological route of how ERU is perpetuated
remains elusive. However, according to the Merck Veterinary Manual,
it is widely believed that ERU may be the result of immune-mediated
responses to persistent antigens and/ or antigen mimicry (resemblance)
of ocular tissues, or autoimmunity. This is consistent with many
other species, including man.
The chief infectious cause of ERU is leptospirosis and clinical signs of ERU may not be evident for months or years after primary infection. It has been demonstrated that antigen mimicry exists between L-pomona and equine ocular tissues. The most commonly implicated parasitic cause of ERU is migration of Onchocerca cervicalis microfilariae. It can be appreciated how important it is to maintain your horse's health at an optimum level, with constitutional homoeopathic therapy included, to provide a natural resistance to invasion of these parasites.
The scope and the number of homoeopathic remedies that can be used for eye conditions are quite expansive. There are many for specific indications of superficial eye problems and for a range of injuries, but an even greater number when addressing a chronic complaint that is the result of a deep chronic illness. Problems of a chronic nature will require a constitutional approach and guidance from an experienced homoeopath, or homoeopathic veterinarian.
HELP FOR THOSE PRECIOUS EYES:
The following remedies are but a few of the most common remedies that may help heal whatever ails your horse's eyes, and is by no means a comprehensive listing. For further considerations please consult your Materia Medica. Homoeopathic remedies are most effective when the symptoms and the remedy picture are closely matched. While these remedies are indicated for eye problems, they are not limited to these problems, nor are the problems limited to these remedies. Considering the type of ailment, any other health discrepancies, and the nature of the horse as a comprehensive whole, a professional homoeopath can give the best guidance on which remedy accurately fits the patient to provide the most beneficial results. Your homoeopathic practitioner will also have experience and knowledge in which remedies are complementary to each other and which are not, the lesser known remedies and those difficult to acquire, dosage guidelines, how to unravel a difficult case as it unfolds, be able to work on miasmatic background (inherited pre-dispositions), and point out obstacles to cure.
ACONITE...'the Arnica of the eye' - For any acute inflammatory eye ailment, especially given in the early stages. Symptoms arise suddenly, are violent and painful, and particularly when they occurred after cold, dry winds, a chill, after a shock or fearful episode. The eye is hot, dry, and red with the eyelids appearing tight. Profuse lachrymation (tears) can become evident after dry, cold wind or from snow glare. The horse can exhibit restlessness, fearfulness, tossing, flushing and/ or palpitation. This remedy is frequently alternated with Belladonna for flare-ups of chronic complaints where there is anxiety, suddenness of symptoms, violence of symptoms, fever, a bounding pulse and bright, shining eyes. E.g. conjunctivitis, dacryocystitis, keratitis, ophthalmia, uveitis, etc; and immediately following the removal of a foreign body
Worse for - dry, cold winds, snow, or chill; exposure to extreme hot or cold surroundings; fright, shock or emotional trauma; during the night; being overheated in stuffy stables; lying on painful areas.
Better for - fresh air; and sweating
ALLIUM CEPA - For minor eye
inflammations. The eyes lachrymate profusely with the tears being
very bland but the eyes will feel burned and sore. An irritating
discharge from the nose that may be worse in the left nostril, coughs
and colds (cough sensitive to inhaling cold air), or allergies and
hay fever can often accompany eye symptoms. Urination may also appear
to cause discomfort because it feels like the urine is burning.
The horse can be photophobic, and have an increased hunger and thirst.
Worse for - damp weather; warm stable; toward evening; resting and when lying down
Better for - being in open air; bathing; moving around
ARNICA - For essential first
aid relief! A very important remedy for bruising, shock, accident
or trauma of any kind. It aids in reducing blood loss, encourages
reabsorption of blood from bruised tissues (also Hamamelis), encourages
healing of wounds, and helps the patient become more approachable.
E.g. retinal haemorrhage; bloodshot eyes after a fall or other accident
(bloodshot, black eye also Ledum); mechanical blows of blunt objects
(also Symphytum); post surgical procedures. Give as soon as practicable
after an injury or surgery. The horse can display restlessness and
discomfort, bruised, aching, sore pains, obvious sensitivity to
touch, intolerance of company, and may prefer to be left alone.
Worse for - exposure to cold, damp conditions; overexposure to heat or sunlight; too much exercise or movement; being touched or approached; at night
Better for - resting with the head lower than the body
BELLADONNA - For intense, distressing
eye conditions. Like Aconite, symptoms can arise with sudden and
violent onset. Pains will be throbbing and pulsating with the horse
showing dilated pupils and shining eyes, redness, burning and heat,
fever, a bounding pulse, and extreme sensitiveness to touch, pain,
jarring, light and noise. E.g. conjunctivitis; ophthalmia; any recently
acquired painful injury, especially with a twitching of the eyelids.
Mental symptoms may also be violent in nature with extreme agitation
or excitability, with a desire to strike, bite or kick. Thirst is
usually not marked.
Worse for - affections on the right side of the body; light and looking at shiny objects; being around running water; noise and jar; after a clip or wash; at 3pm
Better for - leaning the head against something; from a light covering.
CALC FLUOR - For cataracts (also
Conium or Arnica when the cataract develops after an injury). This
remedy has a marked action on many bodily tissues, not least the
eye. It features an ability to relax and help dissolve scar tissue
and adhesions and acts most favourably on hard nodules. The lens
can look like a small mustard-like pearl behind the pupil. Other
symptoms include spots on the cornea, corneal opacity, and aching
eyeballs. Useful for dacryocystitis when there is a recurrence of
a small boil and formation of fistula; phlyctenular keratitis (inflammatory
condition of the cornea that is characterised by tiny ulcerating
nodules); and subcutaneous palpebral cysts. The horse may have a
craving for salt. This remedy may need some time to manifest a result
and should not be repeated too often.
Worse for - changes of weather, damp weather; beginning motion; sprains; during rest
Better for - closing the eyes and pressing tightly; heat, warm applications; rubbing; continued motion
EUPHRASIA - For numerous eye
complaints. There is no mental picture for this remedy. It is chiefly
a pathological acute remedy. Symptoms can include an abundant flow
of corrosive tears, so as to prevent seeing (especially when exposed
to the wind), swelling and agglutination (gluing/ sticking together
of the eyelids), swelling of the lower lid, smarting in the eyes,
bland coryza, bloodshot eyes, aching eyes, burning, swelling and
itching, photophobia and winking, opacity of the cornea, obscuration
of and pellicle (a thin film or skin) over the cornea after mechanical
injuries, bluish obscuration of the cornea, inflammation and ulceration
of the edges of the eyelids, scars from ulcers and specks in the
cornea, and eruption of small milliary pimples round the eyes. Therefore,
think of the use of this remedy for any eye that appears diseased
or damaged. E.g. ulceration; conjunctivitis; hay fever; entropion;
blepharitis (inflammation of the eyelids); iritis; ophthalmia; uveitis;
eye injury; etc.
Worse for - light; smoke; in the evenings; in southerly winds
Better for - the dark; bathing of the affected parts; out of the wind
NB: In low potency (3x-6x) this remedy makes an excellent eye rinse for general bathing or to promote healing of more serious conditions. One drop of Euphrasia to every 20 mls of tepid, sterile, purified water can be used for bathing with a swab. Alternatively, you may draw up a prepared solution with a sterile syringe (no needle) to squirt gently into the eyes taking care not to bump the eye. Oral doses of 6c-30c, or higher (refer to your homoeopathist), can be given simultaneously to work at a different level.
HEPAR SULPH - For purulent processes
of the eye. The Hepar sulph horse can be aggressive and irritable
while exhibiting hypersensitivity to pain, cold, drafts, touch and
noise. You may even find a sense of the horse being offended by
your administrations in the attempt to look after him. Pains can
be described as splinter-like. The use of this remedy will be governed
by the existence of purulent inflammation. E.g. purulent and offensive
smelling discharges; eye trouble accompanying a sinus infection;
ulceration; conjunctivitis; hypopyon (pus/ abscess behind the cornea)
Worse for - cold, drafts; any part of the body being uncovered; lying on the painful eye; touch
Better for - warmth; damp weather
NB: Low potencies (30c and under) promote suppuration, whereas high potencies (200c and above) promote resolution!
HYPERICUM - For any nerve related
injuries, or penetrating wounds to the eye. Pains are more severe
than the extent of the injury would seem to merit. All symptoms
are worse from being touched, with obvious signs of distress, depression
or drowsiness following an accident or wound. With Hypericum's special
affinity for injured areas that are rich in nerve supply, head injuries
leading to retinal detachment, or optic nerve damage should be well
supported by this remedy. There will be the added benefit from this
remedy towards the head injury itself, or any accompanying spinal
injury and trauma.
Worse for - touch; movement; contact with damp, cold air; after urinating
Better for - keeping still; bending backward (hollowing the back)
NB: This is another useful remedy for making a pain relieving eye rinse that can also assist with healing abraded eye tissues. Best to make as 'HyperCal' solution where 1 part Hypericum mother tincture and 1 part Calendula mother tincture are added to 20 parts of tepid, sterile, pure water and applied as for the Euphrasia eye rinse.
KALI-BIC - For characteristic
yellow, tough, stringy discharges of the eye. This applies to all
mucous surfaces and the yellowish colouring is a good guiding symptom.
Discharges may form crusts and when removed usually leave a raw
sore. Consider Kali bic for chronic eye affections such as purulent
eye discharge accompanying sinusitis; corneal ulcers (mostly round
with clear-cut edges); and conjunctivitis with heat, redness and
itching. The horse may be irritable and indifferent but less so
Worse for - morning or after sleep, 2-3am; cold, damp; open air; spring, hot weather; suppressed catarrh; protruding tongue; undressing (removing rug)
Better for - heat; motion; pressure
PULSATILLA - For affections
in general appearing on the cornea and eyelid margins. Changeable
symptoms are a characteristic of this remedy, or they move from
one place to another. A burning, itching in the eyes is chiefly
seen in the evening (inducing rubbing or scratching). Inflammation
appears as redness of the sclera and conjunctiva, copious secretion
of thick mucous with nightly agglutination, and swelling. Discharges
(also nasal, or vulval) are typically yellow or white and bland
with profuse lachrymation, principally in the wind, as well as in
open air, in the cold, and in clear bright daylight. Try this remedy
for trichiasis (an abnormal inversion of the eyelashes that irritates
the eyeball); sty-like eruptions, especially on the upper lid; a
clouded crystalline lens that is of a greyish colour; an abscess
near the angle of eye, like a lachrymal fistula (discharging pus
on pressing it); and amaurosis (paralysis of the optic nerve or
blindness due to systemic causes rather than damage, or due to emotional
shock) where the patient's gaze looks fixed and stupid. These individuals
usually have little to no thirst. If they have a thirst it usually
appears only after eating. Pulsatilla horses are usually clingy
and needy, easily saddened, sweet and loving, timid, mild and easily
led or influenced. However, their neediness can make them appear
Worse for - exposure to sun; getting cold; getting feet wet; warm stuffy stable; at twilight; rich food
Better for - bathing; fresh air; movement; pressure
SILICEA - For all the tissues
of the eye. Helps to promote absorption of opaque material, and
hence to reduce scarring. These horses may experience pressure and
smarting in the eyes and lids with spasmodic closing of the lids,
lachrymation, especially in open air, affections appearing in the
angles of the eyes and in the region of the tear ducts, and associated
swelling of the lachrymal glands. There can be momentary attacks
of sudden blindness, cloudiness of the crystalline lens, photophobia,
and dazzling in broad daylight which will frequently lead to its
use in ERU. Found to be beneficial for fungus haematodes and ulcers;
hypertrophied corneal tissue; hypopyon (less pussy than Hepar sulph);
suppuration of foreign bodies; blocked tear ducts, and lachrymal
fistula weakness. The Silicea horse lacks grit, or initiative. He
is so tired that he just wants to hang out or lie down all the time.
He is timid and full of fears with a peculiar fear of pointed objects
(also Spigelia). Being a sensitive and nervous individual he can
start at every sound, or jump if touched. On the other hand, he
can be easily irritated, obstinate and fixed. Less chilly than the
Hepar sulph horse, with a poor appetite but an excessive thirst.
Paradoxically the appetite may in some cases be increased and ravenous.
Worse for - cold, uncovering; worse full and new moon; getting tired; suppressed sweats; change of weather, before a storm; pressure, touch, and combing hair
Better for - warmth, warm applications; lying down; magnetism and electricity; while eating but worse after eating; wet, and humid weather
NB: Low potencies (30c and under) promote suppuration,
whereas high potencies (200c and above) promote resolution!
SYMPHYTUM - For blunt trauma injuries to the eye that fail to penetrate. This remedy is the leading remedy for the nature of this type of eye damage. There will be great pain in the eyeball with prickling and stitching pains, retinal bleeding, and spasmodic closing of the eye. Symphytum can also be useful for orbital bone fractures and corneal abrasions. Alternating Symphytum with the remedy Ruta grav can add to a favourable response in assisting to heal the damage to the eye and/ or bone surrounding the eye. Ruta grav acts on bruising, eyestrain, or loss of power in the eye muscles and can be seen to have a synergistic effect with Symphytum.
Worse for - blows from blunt objects; after the injury; being touched, pressure; motion; walking
Better for - gentle motion; rest; warmth
Homoeopathic treatment stimulates the body's innate self-healing intelligence to return to homeostasis, and to cure itself. The remedies achieve the best results when carefully selected by matching the remedy picture to that of the symptoms of the patient. Not everything found in a remedy picture has to be demonstrated in the patient but the totality of symptoms of the patient should be well represented within the remedy. An important law and a treasure to remind oneself with is 'match the remedy to the patient, not the patient to the remedy'.
This article is for educational purposes only and in no way replaces veterinary advice or treatment. Always call your veterinarian when serious events arise. If you desire to follow a holistic path, I would recommend that you obtain approval from your veterinarian to seek the professional services of a qualified classical homoeopath or other certified holistic health practitioner.
"Studies of Homoeopathic Remedies"
by Dr. Douglas Gibson
"Masterkey to Homoeopathic Materia Medica" by Dr. K.C. Bhanja
"Homoeo Practitioner's Guide to Diseases" by Dr. A.C. Dutta
"Materia Medica of Homoeopathic Medicine" by Dr. S.R. Phatak
"Homoeopathic Drug Pictures" by Dr. M.L. Tyler
"A Dictionary of Practical Materia Medica" by J.H. Clarke, MD
"The Homoeopathic Emergency Guide" by Thomas Kruzel, ND
"The Treatment of Horses by Homoeopathy" by George Macleod, DVSM
"Homoeopathic Care for Cats and Dogs" by Don Hamilton, DVM
"The Merck Veterinary Manual, 8th Ed." published by Merck & Co., Inc
"Case History and Clinical Notations" by Tanya Nolte, VN, DipHom
About the author:
Tanya Nolte lives in NSW, Australia where she keeps a number of horses and also an interesting array of other furry animal companions. She has educated horses and competed successfully in a number of equine disciplines for more than 35 years. Tan is a practicing veterinary nurse as well as a classical homoeopath. She conducts consultations at several veterinary clinics, a human/ animal homoeopathic practice, and privately at her home office. She has acquired her Diploma of Homoeopathy, high grades in the Medical Sciences of Anatomy and Physiology, Pathophysiology, Biochemistry, Symptomatology and Differential Diagnoses, and her level 1 Reiki Certificate. Tan is a professional member of the Australian Homoeopathic Association, the official Australian Registrar of Homoeopaths, and the Holistic Animal Therapy Association of Australia for which she is also a committee member. Although specialising in equine health, Tan also happily works with all our other animal companions and their human counterparts. She is available for distance consultations via phone, regular mail or E-mail correspondence.
For more information, and to find a homoeopath near you:
Tanya Nolte, Classical EquiHomoeopath.
Whispering Horse Therapies
PO Box 170, Nimbin
NSW 2480, Australia
Phone 0266 897500
Australian Homoeopathic Association
PO Box 396 Drummoyne
NSW 1470, Australia
Phone 02 97192763
Holistic Animal Therapy Association of Australia
PO Box 202, Ormond, Melbourne
Vic 3204, Australia
Phone 03 59688100
The Academy of Veterinary Homeopathy
751 N.E. 168th Street
North Miami Beach, FL 33162-2427
National Center for Homeopathy
801 North Fairfax St., Suite 306
Alexandria, VA 22314
American Holistic Veterinary Medical Association
2214 Old Emmorton Road
Bel Air, MD 21015