Natural vs. Prescription: Treating an Eye Infection

Hello once again, my happy readers! I know it’s been a hot minute since my last post, but life has been throwing some wrenches at me here and there, and I’ve been doing my best to dodge, duck, dip, dive and dodge (pardon the shameless Dodgeball movie reference).

The fabulous news is, in the time since my last post, my husband and I have gotten to attend not one, but two, of our best friends’ weddings. It’s been a heck of a few weeks, folks. Wedding mania!

So what’s been the trouble? Well, roughly about a week and a half after my last post went live, there was a very strange occurrence – I got an eye infection. The dreaded daycare affliction. “Pink eye,” if you will. Whaaaat?! I’ve never had one in my entire life. How this happened at 29 (and childless and kid-phobic, to boot) is beyond me. I woke up with a red corner of my right eye. Innocent enough. Could’ve been anything. I thought little of it, and pegged it as connected to something sinus-related.

This, though, quickly went from 0 to 60 in just a few hours – the sheer amount of gunk coming out of my eye by that same evening was unsettling, to say the least. My eye got super red, my lid swelled, and I had gunk clouding my vision no matter how quickly I cleared it. Hallmark bacterial eye infection.

Me vs. the Eye Infection: A Saga

As per usual, I turned first to a natural remedy. I found this post by Mommypotamus that describes using honey in sterile water as eye drops, and immediately had my husband go buy me some droppers at Walgreen’s so I could get started. I put several drops in each eye as I was going to bed, then put an eye patch over my affected eye.

I woke up the next morning with my eye lashes literally glued shut with gunk, but after cleaning everything up, I was pleased to see that my infection had improved by about 75% – swelling down, redness down, hardly any more gunk production (I truly wish I had pictures of my eye before bed and then in the morning, because it was totally mind-blowing).

Now, mind you, our health insurance is horrible, so had I woken up to truly no improvement, I would’ve headed to an ophthalmologist, since our eye care coverage is so much better. Inspired by my progress, though, I repeated the drops throughout the day, and went to bed again with a fresh eye patch on. The next morning I was even happier to see that my situation had reached about 90% reduction. I kept up with the drops and eye patch, and was really happy that it was on its way out right in time for us to head out of state for a destination wedding. Or so I thought.

Well, wouldn’t you know it, I woke up the morning we were leaving by 7 am to discover that my other eye was starting to get red. Crap! I couldn’t have been more mad, because I had been so, so careful sterilizing everything, washing my hands like a mad woman, and changing towels/pillow cases daily. (In hindsight, my theory for the eye-to-eye contamination is that it happened while washing my face, but how do you avoid that?! The great news is, my husband never got it, so my hard work did pay off!)

I panicked, because I simply didn’t have the time and ability to baby it with honey while vacationing. (It was a process. Every time I’d do the honey drops I would sterilize the dropper just in case, and I would boil water to make a new batch of drops twice a day. Not hard, but not something you want to do on vacation.)

In sheer desperation, I took advantage of the new feature on the Walgreen’s app where you can talk live with a licensed MD, and was prescribed antibiotic eye drops that could be picked up at a Walgreen’s at our destination later that day (handy, right?). As we were leaving, I was able to whip up one fast batch of honey drops, which I put in my eyes during the hurricane of finishing packing and loading the car. Talk about chaotic!

Even by the time we got to Walgreen’s (six hours later) to pick up my prescription drops, the honey drop I’d done right before we got in the car had helped my left eye a ton – it was hardly even noticeable that there was an issue. Regardless, I began using the antibiotic drops exactly as prescribed (every four hours) in both eyes. I guess you could say they helped, but they didn’t eliminate gunk production completely, plus they made my eyes more veiny and red than they were before. They kept any major flare-up at bay, true, but definitely didn’t fully clear up the situation like I expected for being a $20 prescription bottle of drops (nor did they seem to work like the honey drops had). I sadly accepted that wearing my contacts wouldn’t be an option at any point, so I had to rock wedding #1 in my glasses (total bummer, considering it was Myrtle Beach to boot). I kept using the drops over the course of our four-day vacation, but wished that I could’ve been using the honey ones instead. Though at that point, I figured I’d paid for the stupid antibiotic drops, so I may as well finish the bottle and see what happens.

Here’s where things got complicated when we got home. After continued use of the prescription drops, I started having more eye irritation, discomfort, and excessive dryness. My eyes got veiny-looking around my iris, as they usually do under any form of excess irritation. Because of the dryness, sleeping became uncomfortable; the desert-like feeling in both eyes would actually wake me. This was not something that I’d experienced while using the honey drops, so I knew it was the prescription drops causing this. I discontinued use, since it had been nearly seven days on them, and went back to the honey drops just a couple times a day. The dryness and discomfort improved immediately, and I hoped at that point that I was out of the woods. But, that would’ve been too easy, of course.

Unfortunately, after about two days of being back on the honey drops in both eyes, it seemed like the infection flared back up a little bit in my right eye (remember, that’s where it all had started and had been pretty darn bad). I woke up on day 2 with enough gunk in that eye to worry me, which was really disappointing and frustrating because the honey had been so effective originally. (My theory on this? Well, two reasons: a) Antibiotic resistance developed while using the prescription, making a natural antibiotic less effective following the use of a chemical one, and b) The prescription had irritated my eye so badly that it actually created perfect conditions for the infection to re-flourish.) To re-gain control, I begrudgingly went back to using the prescription drops in both eyes again, and did that for about another two days before the side effects of it came back and drove me to do what I should have done from square one – use colloidal silver.

An Intro to Colloidal Silver

Without any further hesitation, I hopped in the car and headed to my favorite local organic grocery store, where I bought my first ever bottle of colloidal silver.

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I’m sure most of you have never heard of colloidal silver, so let’s delve into it. By definition, it’s a “liquid solution created using electrolysis to suspend pure, metallic elemental silver (in groups of particles 15 atoms or fewer, each with a positive electric charge) attached to simple protein molecules, in distilled water” (thanks, herbwisdom.com). Those of you who’ve heard of it may know that it’s been used to treat newborns’ eyes to prevent infection, as well as being used to treat the bandages in burn care wards. That’s not all though – it’s also used topically to treat other common conditions like psoriasis, eczema, ringworm, warts, shingles, and herpes, to name a few.

But why use it? Well, here’s Dr. Axe’s explanation of why it’s so beneficial (see his full article here). Colloidal silver functions in three ways that speed healing:

Catalytic Oxidation: Silver naturally holds onto oxygen molecules, which readily react with the sulfhydral (H) groups that surround bacterial and viruses. In turn, this helps block the life-preserving cellular process known as cellular respiration, which is defined as “the set of metabolic reactions and processes that take place in the cells of organisms to convert biochemical energy from nutrients into adenosine triphosphate (ATP), and then release waste products.”

Reaction with Bacterial Cell Membranes: Silver ions can attach to bacteria cell membranes directly and produce the same respiration-blocking effect.

Binding with DNA: Shown to literally enter bacteria DNA, up to 12% of silver has been detected in Pseudomonas aeruginosa. According to one source, “While it remains unclear exactly how the silver binds to the DNA without destroying the hydrogen bonds holding the lattice together, it nevertheless prevents the DNA from unwinding, an essential step for cellular replication to occur.”

So, in short, colloidal silver stops bacteria and viruses in their tracks, causing death by suffocation, plus preventing replication, all to our benefit. Unlike antibiotics, it kills using a multi-faceted approach, so if one method is unsuccessful, the other method will finish the job. This is why bacteria very rarely have the opportunity to develop resistance to it, compared to antibiotics that usually have one single mode of attack. (For further reading about silver resistance, see here.) It’s even been proven effective against Super Bugs like MRSA, which have arisen due to our society’s rampant over-use/misuse of antibiotics. Also unlike antibiotics, it is effective against both bacteria and viruses, so there isn’t the concern of prescribing an antibiotic uselessly against what’s actually a viral infection. Many people keep it on-hand in their first-aid kit, since it’s such a great alternative to traditional antibiotics (see this article for more on that).

Colloidal silver is sold under many different brand names, though, as you can see, I chose to purchase Sovereign Silver, which carries excellent reviews and reputation. Here are some of the advantages S.S. has over its competitors as well:

Ease of access and affordability are bonuses with this product, as most health stores like Vitamin Shoppe and drug stores like Walgreen’s carry at least one size of this product. The 2 fl. oz. bottle I bought will probably last me years, for only $10 (I did get it on 20% off sale at my local health market though). Even though they make much bigger bottles, unless you’re actually consuming this orally, you won’t need that much.

Before I move on, I want to note that many people do actually ingest colloidal silver as part of their supplement routine, though I personally side with those who opt to keep it external only. Because silver is so effective against bacteria, I can only reason that (like an oral antibiotic) ingesting this would be detrimental to the good bacteria in our guts. I did, however, use colloidal silver against a sore throat, by gargling with warm water that had a dropper-full of silver mixed in (then spitting it out), and it worked very well!

My Experience With Sovereign Silver

Initially, my eyes were so irritated from the prescription drops that the sheer act of the colloidal silver drops hitting my eyes was unpleasant for about the first day, until these drops healed that irritation. After that, putting the drops in was a breeze – they do not hurt or burn in any way. (They’re just as comfortable as any eye drop, though I could feel more “weight” to the solution when in my eye.) The bottle cap is a dropper, so it’s super convenient! And no, if you’re wondering, no need to dilute before administering. For my first several days, I was using the drops 3 or 4 times a day, using no more than 2 drops per eye at each session.

Typically, I’ve read that it’s roughly a 72-hour treatment period with silver, but that’s not to say that I didn’t feel (and see) vast improvement within the first 24 hours, and even more drastic results after the first 48 hours. Redness? Gone. Irritation? Gone. Soreness? Gone. I still did have some very mild gunk accumulation in the corners of my eyes, but it was only slightly more than my normal levels. Approaching the 72-hour mark, I was finally able to stop thinking about my eyes and focus on upcoming wedding #2!

Hands down, using the colloidal silver provided the best results in the shortest amount of time. For all intents and purposes, I believe the infection was wiped out somewhere around the 3rd or 4th day of using these, though I waited until the 6th day to attempt putting my contacts back in (oh sweet contacts, how I had missed thee). Everything went just fine when I did, though I was careful to only wear them for half-days initially, just to ease my eyes back into it. (By the time wedding #2 was upon me, I was successfully back in my contacts all day, and grateful for it!) I did keep up with a maintenance drop of colloidal silver first thing in the morning, well before my contacts, and then another drop last thing at night before bed. I did that for roughly a week, just to be sure the infection was gone. After that, I weaned down to just one drop a day for a few days, then finally down to zero.

So, for anyone who’s keeping score in this battle, here’s the summary of what went down:

  • Honey drops: 3.5 days [great, but ran out of time – vacation/wedding coming!]
  • Prescription drops: 6.5 days [excessive irritation + lack of results]
  • Back to honey drops: 2 days [reduce efficacy + slight flare-up]
  • Back to prescription drops: 2 days [excessive irritation returned]
  • FINALLY switched to colloidal silver: 4 days [able to wear contacts by 5th day]

And so, after this unnecessarily long and tedious battle of using of honey drops, prescription antibiotic drops, and colloidal silver drops to fight, my final verdict is:

  • 1st Place: Colloidal silver
  • 2nd Place: Honey drops
  • 3rd Place: Prescription antibiotic drops

This was a situation of total rarity – those of us who always swear by natural remedies and frown upon prescriptions hardly ever get the opportunity to try both options objectively and compare their effectiveness. And in this case, I actually got to try out two natural remedies vs. a prescription one – even more rare!

Let’s be honest – had I not been pressured by the time frame of wedding #1, I never would’ve reached for a prescription, and would’ve just kept on using the honey. I believe that the honey would’ve knocked it out all on its own in about a week, if I’d had the chance to do so. (In hindsight, I probably could’ve made the honey work even while being on vacation, since our hotel room did have a full kitchen with a range and pots, but it sure would’ve been a pain in the ass.)

In any case, honey is totally deserving of its reputation as an antibiotic. I sing its praises constantly, but until you really see it in action versus a prescription antibiotic, it’s hard to put it in true perspective.  Despite the fact that it wasn’t as effective the second time around, I don’t blame the honey for that. I can’t. I saw how effective it was originally, and I can’t fault it for the mess that the prescription drops made. All in all, it did an outstanding job treating this situation, and did nothing but reinforce my faith in it.

Of course, if we’re playing the hindsight game, I wish I would’ve just gone for colloidal silver from square one. It would’ve taken care of the issue just as fast (if not even faster) than the honey, and the bottle would’ve been super convenient to take with me on vacation if needed. I probably would’ve been able to wear my contacts for wedding #1. Not to mention, it would’ve saved me the MD Live call cost, plus the cost and side effects of the prescription. And a whole lot of time and frustration.

But, in life, you live and learn. Now that I’ve been through one eye infection, I certainly have learned what the magic bullet is, and I also learned the hard way that reaching for prescription drops is definitely the worst (and most costly) way to go for treating an eye infection. Lesson learned!

Wishing you healthier, happier days!

What about you? What’s your favorite ways of using colloidal silver? Have you used it against an eye infection? 


Main image eye graphic credit: craftsy.com/blog/2013/06/tips-for-drawing-realistic-eyes/

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