While dozens of eye wash solutions are out there, clogging up the store shelves, there really is a better way. Even as a pharmacist who deals with synthetics daily, I love taking a holistic approach to health and wellbeing. Natural eyewash solutions can be rather harsh and irritating, ironically. For example, Ark Natural's has an eyewash solution that actually stings when placed in the eye area---I've personally tried it. Pets feel the burning sensation too---it contains aloe vera (not the wisest choice as the rind saponins in the sap are toxic to cats and dogs) and witch hazel (probably the culprit behind the stinging). This is just one example of many. I recommend making a DIY, natural, fresh, and extremely effective chamomile eyewash solution.
DIY ORGANIC CHAMOMILE EYEWASH SOLUTION
What You Need:
- Organic chamomile (Matricaria recutita): You may use tea bags or whole dried flowers. Tea bags are easier to find, but many stores sell whole dried flowers too. Mountain Rose Herbs offers dried chamomile for sale and the quality is unsurpassed.
- Distilled water
1. Bring distilled water to a boil. Do not over-boil.
2. Place 2 teaspoonfuls of whole dried chamomile flowers or 2 tea bags into a ceramic/glass mug (do not use plastic). Make sure the mug is clean and rinsed with distilled water prior to this step.
3. Pour the boiled water into the mug, over the chamomile tea bags or flowers.
4. Let sit and steep for 3-5 minutes.
5. Remove the tea bags or dried flowers from the mug.
6. Allow to cool to room temperature.
7. VERY IMPORTANT STEP: Strain the eyewash solution several times. Chamomile residue, dust, debris, etc. cannot be present in an eyewash solution. It will irritate the eyes and introduce particles that may scratch the surface.
Storage & Application:
- Store in a glass bottle with a tight cap/lid, in the refrigerator, and for no longer than 3-4 days. If you need more, make more. Don't use expired chamomile eyewash solutions---it can precipitate particles, lose potency, etc.
- Use 3-4 times daily, making certain that the clean chamomile eyewash gets INTO the eye.
- When applying, do not use too-hot or too-cold of a solution. It should be room-temperature upon application.
- When applying, we use cotton pads. Saturate them in the chamomile eyewash solution before application. Do not and I repeat, DO NOT use the same cotton pad on both eyes. If one eye is infected, using the same cotton pad will infect the other eye. ONE COTTON PAD IS TO BE USED PER EYE PER SINGLE TREATMENT. Then, toss the cotton pads away. Do not save the cotton pads to be used throughout the day either. Even if an animal is suffering from watery discharge in both eyes, do not use the same cotton pad for both eyes.
- Alternatively, you may use glass bottles that come with pipette caps/lids. This is fine too (instead of cotton pads), but all other steps apply here. Do not allow the pipette to touch the infected eye.
Remember that this is an eye solution and while you may not guarantee complete sterility, take extreme care not to contaminate it.
I have used this with great success, in cats and dogs, for watery discharge (for idiopathic reasons, irritation from dust particles, scratching, inflammation, etc.), mucous-like discharge from conjunctivitis (in beginning stages only), redness, inflammation, and mild and minor irritation. This eyewash solution is not for severe cases of ophthalmic issues that require the diagnoses and treatments of professional veterinarians.
Be aware that cats and dogs can experience allergic reactions to chamomile flowers and plants in the Aster family, but this is extremely rare.