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Eye bright is a medicinal herb that is known by the official name of Euphrasia officinalis and derives its common names, which include meadow eye bright and red eye bright, from the appearance of its flowers. The flowers of this botanical can be white or purplish in color with stripes and spots that form what looks like a depiction of the bloodshot eyes of a person. It is from these patterns that the herb received its common names, and it is believed that the appearance of the flowers also influenced the use of the botanical as a folk remedy in medieval Europe for the treatment of practically every type of eye disease or ailment.
Infections of the eye, eye irritation, glaucoma, cataracts, weakness of the sight, styes and dry eyes are some of the health conditions most frequently treated externally with an infusion of eye bright. The infusion is prepared by allowing one tablespoon (15 ml) of the aerial or above-ground portion of the plant to steep in one cup (250 ml) of boiling hot water. It is important not to actually boil the herb and to cover the infusion while it steeps for at least 15 minutes. After the infusion or tea is cooled to room temperature, it can be used to rinse the eyes daily as part of an alternative medical treatment plan for any of the aforementioned ailments or diseases. Care should be taken to use a clean container for the rinse, and the user's hands should be thoroughly washed to help guard against making a condition worse by introducing microorganisms into the eyes that can lead to infection or aggravate an existing infection.
It is not advisable to make and use homemade eye bright eye drops because of the risk of contamination, which is high if there is no reliable method of sterilizing the drops, dropper and the container that holds the infusion or solution. Eye bright tea also can be consumed and is believed to benefit the health of the eyes and the natural treatment of ailments of the sight when taken internally.
The herb has strong astringent properties that help to combat inflammation of the tissues in the eyes, and it serves as a barrier over the mucous membranes enabling a more speedy recovery from minor injuries, irritation and inflammation. There are no known side effects, but pregnant and lactating women are advised to consult a doctor before using eye bright internally.
Other health conditions and problems that have responded favorably to an internal treatment with this herb include diabetes, hay fever and digestive disorders. Some people choose to drink eye bright tea occasionally to help keep their eyes strong and healthy in order to ward of the development of vision problems. If the herb is taken in capsule form, the recommended dosage is one or two capsules per day with food until the condition being treated subsides.