Boric acid eye wash for conjunctivitis: Is it a safe and effective treatment?

Have you ever seen boric powder being used in your household to treat pink eye? Do you think it works? Read on to find out if safety of boric acid eye wash for conjunctivitis.
Woman with conjunctivitis
Monsoon is the peak season for spread of eye infections. Know to prevent them. Image courtesy: Adobe Stock
Manasvi Jain Updated: 17 Oct 2023, 06:26 pm IST
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Conjunctivitis, commonly known as pink eye, is a prevalent eye condition that can cause discomfort and irritation. Over the years, numerous home remedies have emerged as potential treatments for pink eye. One such remedy that has stood the test of time, according to my mom, is boric acid eye wash. My mom told me that she has seen boric acid in the form of eye drops being used for many years to treat conjunctivitis. Passed down through generations, this natural solution has gained popularity for its purported benefits. Let’s see if the experts think boric acid eye wash to treat conjunctivitis to be a safe treatment or not.

Understanding conjunctivitis

Conjunctivitis refers to the inflammation of the conjunctiva, the thin, transparent membrane covering the white part of the eye and the inner surface of the eyelids. It can be caused by viral or bacterial infections, allergies, or irritants. The condition is characterized by redness, itchiness, watering, discharge and sometimes, blurry vision. While conjunctivitis often resolves on its own within a few days, treatment can help alleviate symptoms and prevent the spread of infection.

Know if boric acid eye wash can help treat pink eye. Image courtesy: Adobe Stock

Also read: Eye problems: Is it an allergy or pink eye?

What is boric acid eye wash?

As Health Shots reached out to Dr Harshwardhan Ghorpade, Cornea, Cataract & Refractive Surgeon, Hiranandani Hospital, Vashi-A Fortis Network Hospital, he explained that boric acid, also known as hydrogen borate, is a mild acid derived from the mineral boron. It has been widely used in non-prescription antiseptics and astringents due to its gentle yet effective properties. Boric acid eye washes, typically formulated as isotonic solutions, contain a low concentration of boric acid (around 0.02%), purified water, sodium chloride, and other ingredients.

Benefits of boric acid eye wash

Here are some of the benefits of using boric acid wash to treat conjunctivitis as explained by Dr Ghorpade:

1. Antiseptic Properties: Boric acid eye washes possess mild antiseptic properties that can help inhibit the growth of bacteria and fungi, reducing the risk of mild eye infections.

2. Compatibility with Eye Tonicity: The composition of boric acid eye wash drops is similar to the natural chemistry of the eyes. This makes it suitable for irrigation without disrupting the essential chemicals present in eye fluid.

3. Acts as a Buffering Agent: Boric acid acts as a buffering agent, maintaining the pH balance of the eye wash solution. This allows for the incorporation of other active or inactive ingredients without altering its pH level.

boric acid eye wash for conjunctivitis
These eye drops can bring temporary relief to people with pink eye. Image courtesy: Adobe Stock

Also read: My mom says using gulab jal for eyes can keep them clean and healthy

Can boric acid be used for conjunctivitis treatment?

Boric acid eye washes are useful for rinsing foreign substances from the eyes, such as chlorinated water, dust, smoke, chemicals, and smog. They can also provide relief from eye irritation caused by eye allergies, dry eye syndrome (xerophthalmia), conjunctivitis (pink eye) infections, and Sjögren syndrome, which can cause dry eyes.

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“It is important to note that boric acid eye washes do not treat the underlying cause of conjunctivitis; they just primarily provide relief from symptoms,” says Dr Ghorpade. He further explains that while boric acid does possess antibacterial and antifungal properties, its effectiveness at such low concentrations is limited. Therefore, it is crucial to consult a healthcare professional for appropriate treatment if you suspect an eye infection.

Tips to keep in mind before using boric acid eye wash

Before using a boric acid eye wash for conjunctivitis, it is essential to keep the following considerations in mind:

1. Remove contact lenses: Prior to using an eye wash, remove contact lenses to avoid potential adverse effects. Some solutions may contain preservatives that can be absorbed by the lenses, causing discoloration. Wait at least 15 minutes after using the eye wash before reinserting your contacts.

remove contact lenses before putting eye drops
It is advised to remove contact lenses before using boric acid eye wash. Image courtesy: Shutterstock

2. Avoid open wounds or sores: If there are sores or open wounds in or around the eyes, it is best to avoid using the boric acid eye wash in those areas.

3. Check expiration date: Never use an eye wash that is cloudy or past its expiration date, as it may not be effective and could potentially cause further irritation.

All said and done, boric acid eye wash should not be seen as an effective treatment to treat conjunctivitis. These eye washes can provide temporary relief from symptoms and aid in rinsing foreign substances. However, it is crucial to consult a healthcare professional for a proper diagnosis and appropriate treatment of conjunctivitis. They can provide expert advice and recommend suitable medications or therapies to address the specific cause of the condition.

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About the Author

Manasvi Jain is a professional writer with a keen interest in spreading awareness about various health and wellness issues through her articles. She writes well researched articles by connecting with various doctors and health experts. ...Read More

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