Earlier this year, in February and March, Port Vila was struck with an outbreak of bacterial conjunctivitis, more commonly known as ‘Red Eye’. Conjunctivitis is an airborne bacterial disease that can easily spread through close contact with those who are infected.

The best way to prevent conjunctivitis is to maintain good hygiene by taking preventative measures such as using hand sanitizers and washing your hands regularly. If you have contracted it, don’t use handkerchiefs or face towels to wipe your eyes. Preferably use paper towels such as tissues or toilet paper so that it can easily be disposed of after every use. Wear sunglasses to stop the spread of infection and to also minimize the light sensitivity that red eye can cause.

At its peak, the Eye Clinic at Vila Central Hospital was seeing more than 100 people a day. The high number of eye drop prescriptions resulted in depleted stocks at the pharmacies. Without medication, some people chose to resort to natural remedies. Here are a few ideas that can be done in the comfort of your own home.


Breast milk

Breast milk is gold in liquid form – the antibodies of colostrum and breast milk have been well documented to have many healing properties. Apparently an antibody called immunoglobulin A limits the growth of bacteria by preventing the pink eye bacteria attaching to the mucosal surface of the eye. Mothers swear by breast milk to heal a wide range of ailments.

How to do it

Simply squirt a bit of breast milk in the eye, either directly from the source or by milk expressed into a dropper.


Warm Tea Bag

Ideally, this hot compress is best suited from herbal teas such as twig, calendula, chamomile or fennel, but if you don’t have access to it, a simple black tea bag from any of the shops will do. By using tea bags as a warm compress, it soothes the eye’s irritation and/or inflammation. Apparently by adding a touch of salt while it’s brewing will boost it’s healing properties.

How to do it

Just brew a cup of tea, strain the tea bag so it’s not too hot and wet, and press into your eye gently. Allow it to rest on your eye, before gently using it to wipe off any excess eye secretions.


Saline Solution

Making your own saline solution is probably the most effective and common home remedy. Best of all, you can use it for up to two days and it can also be used as a nasal solution for sinus and allergy issues. The saline solution is similar to prescription eye drops, but a more natural alternative.

How to do it

Boil a cup of distilled water to avoid the impurities and chemicals that tap water can contain. Add up to one teaspoon of water and let it cool before rinsing the eye with it several times a day.


Raw Honey

Studies have demonstrated that raw, unpasteurized honey has antibacterial, antiviral and anti-inflammatory properties. Manuka honey from New Zealand is thought to be particularly potent. If you can source some local, organically grown honey or as close to unprocessed as possible, this natural food can heal minor wounds and scrapes and is even thought to promote scar healing.

How to do it

There are several ways you can do this. Either put honey directly into the eye two to three times a day or dilute it with milk (preferably breast milk) or cooled down, boiled water in equal parts. Add a pinch of salt for an extra boost. You can also dilute it with apple cider vinegar if you have access to it.


These remedies are for educational purposes and to share experiences from other people. These are not medically approved recommendations and are for your reading pleasure only.