Case Study

Case Study: Pink Eye

This time of year is a common time for pink eye (conjunctivitis). Whether you get eye irritation from catching a cold (a viral infection) or from something like contaminated water (bacterial infection), read through this case study to help develop your remedy-choosing skills.

The Case:

The first thing you need to do is determine the symptoms that you are experiencing or observing. Make sure that these are *new* symptoms. (If you are always dealing with draining sinuses, that wouldn’t be listed as a new symptom unless it is markedly worse.) Here’s our sample case:

The patient woke up today with a gritty feeling in her eyes. She is complaining of eye drainage and keeps wiping the discharge away because it irritates her skin. No action was taken the first day, and upon waking the second day her eyelid was swollen and her lashes were stuck together. She had no other symptoms prior to this. She is preferring to be left alone while she lays on the couch and listens to audio books. She goes outside once in a while to enjoy the open, fresh air.

Before you look up your remedies in your reference book of choice, remember that you want to have tunnel vision – you want to focus in on the symptoms pertaining to the eye (and possibly the sinuses or other accompanying symptoms). Just because a remedy might say it has an earache with ringing, you do not NEED to also have that symptom in order for it to work for the symptoms that already match.

Remember that a *keynote* is a symptom that is especially telling – if that symptom is present, it more readily points to that remedy. Keynotes are marked with **.


Euphrasia is a lovely remedy to remember for any sort of eye troubles. In fact, it’s common name is Eyebright! So, first we will look at the eye symptoms of Euphrasia. The eyes will have a watery discharge that seems to be constant. The “tears” may be profuse and feel hot or acrid on the skin. You may also *feel like sand is in your eyes*. The eyelid may swell up and could possibly have a sharp, burning pain.

Euphrasia can be particularly useful if the conjunctivitis happens during a case of measles or seems to be related to a skipped menstrual cycle. Euphrasia can also have sticking pains under the sternum when trying to breathe.

Some possible emotional reactions to the illness could be confusion, weakness of memory or wishing to be quiet (especially if the patient is typically talkative).


Ah, the Wind Flower. Pulsatilla is a beautiful remedy used for many things. I was hesitant to use it for a long time because the emotional symptoms never matched. But don’t let that deter you like it did me! It can be very effective even if the “classic” emotional symptoms are not there.

Some possible eye symptoms for Pulsatilla include a *thick, profuse, yellow, and bland discharge*. The eyes may feel like there is sand in them, but what is most notable is how irresistible it is to rub them because they itch. The eyelids may be inflamed, and your eyes may be more sensitive to light than usual.

You might consider Pulsatilla if you had a cold for a few days before getting the conjunctivitis. It’s also good if your symptoms *seem to change so much* that you’re not even sure what the symptoms are anymore! You may also have bitter belching caused by fatty or greasy foods.

The classic emotional symptoms of Pulsatilla that I referred to include being clingy and not wanting to be left alone. Symptoms (mood) can also be worse in a warm, stuffy room and your mood may change often.

Which did you pick?

I like to first look at the physical symptoms. If there is a clear match that’s the one I go with! If it’s close, I move to the etiology (the cause) and if it’s still difficult I look at the emotional/mental symptoms as well. Remember to have tunnel vision – did you notice I threw in a few symptoms in the descriptions that have nothing to do with pink eye?

Anyway, for this case I would definitely start with Euphrasia. The grittiness can be either remedy, but the discharge better matches Euphrasia. The swollen eyelid and stuck lashes could also be either remedy, but that is also the nature of pink eye, so it’s not really a telling symptom. If the eyelid is stuck together with a thick yellow mess, that could be indicative of Pulsatilla. The last symptom about going outside *might* lean towards Pulsatilla in some cases, but a normal person desires fresh air so it’s not a symptom to hang your hat on.

I often find that Euphrasia and Pulsatilla make a good pair. I have had success relieving colds and pink eye by using them in an alternating fashion every few hours, even in a low potency such as 6C. For normal, every day patients with run-of-the-mill pink-eye symptoms, a 30C is a good place to start.