Conjunctivitis (Pink Eye)

WESTERN MEDICINE: Acute catarrhal conjunctivitis (pink eye): a catarrhal form of acute conjunctiva! inflammation caused by various bacteria, differing in various geographic areas. It occurs in the highly contagious epidemic form, usually occurring in the spring and fall and known as "pink eye".

Chronic catarrhal conjunctivitis: an inflammation of the conjunctiva characterized by chronicity with exacerbations and remissions over a period of months or years with symptoms similar to but less severe than those of acute conjunctivitis. The causal bacteria are usually similar.

SYMPTOMS AND SIGNS: In the acute stage, there is lacrimation followed by a discharge, at first watery but later mucoid or mucopurulent, with photophobia and sensations of itching, smarting, and burning of the lids. Usually both eyes are involved. The discharge may seal the lid margins overnight and may interfere transiently with vision by adhering to the cornea. The conjunctiva becomes bright red, and loss of transparency of the bulbar conjunctiva my occur. The discharge by become purulent, with considerable swelling of the lids, chemosis (edema) of the bulbar conjunctiva, and small subconjunctival petechial hemorrhages, especially in the viral forms. In the chronic stage, the symptoms are aggravated at night, consisting of itching, smarting and a foreign - body sensation. The palpebral conjunctiva is reddened and thickened, with a velvety appearance. The bulbar conjunctiva may be involved slightly or not at all. A scant mucoid secretion may be present.

ETIOLOGY AND PATHOLOGY: Chinese medicine considers conjunctivitis is caused by exogenous wind heat factor plus the interior fire from liver and gallbladder. In a chronic stage, liver or kidney Yin deficiency may be involved.


1. Exogenous Wind - Heat Type:

Indications: Congestion, swelling, itching, pain and burning sensation of the eye, photophobia, lacrimation, and sticky discharge, foreign body sensation, or accompanied with headache, fever. Red tongue, thin and white or slight yellow coating, floating and rapid pulse.

Treatment & Formulas: Dispel and clear wind heat.


  • Yin Qiao San (Lonicera and Forsythia Formula, Item No. 2248): This is a typical formula for the symptoms due to wind heat factor.
  • Xi Gan Min Mu Tang (Gardenia and Vitex Combination, Item No. 2127): This is a very good formula for eye diseases in strong wind heat type. Therefore, it is very popularly used for conjunctivitis, iritis keratitis and other eye disorders. 
  • Qing Shang Fang Feng Tang (Siler Combination, Item No. 2184): This is a very good formula to clear the heat of upper burner so as to clear the eyes. 
  • Jing Jie Lian Qiao Tang (Schizonepeta and Forsythia Combination, Item No. 2167)
  • Jing Fang Bai Du San (Schizonepeta and Siler Formula, Item No. 2166): This a good formula to dispel wind factor and clear the exogenous heat too. 

2. Interior Fire Flaming Type:

Indications: Congestion, swelling, pain and burning sensation of the eyes, the discharge may become purulent with considerable swelling of the lids, chemosis (edema) of the bulbar conjunctiva, and small subconjunctival petechial hemorrhages, photophobia, lacrimation, headache, constipation, thirsty, restlessness. Red tongue, yellow coating, slippery, wiry and rapid pulse.

Treatment & Formulas: Clear the interior fire and poisonous factors.


3. Liver or Kidney Deficiency Type: 

Indications: same as chronic catarrhal conjunctivitis.

Treatment & Formulas: Tonify the liver and kidney, clear the deficient fire.