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In eye care, collyrium is an antique term for a lotion or liquid wash used as a cleanser for the eyes, particularly in diseases of the eye. The word collyrium comes from the Greek κολλύρον, eye-salve.
Pre-modern medicine distinguished two kinds of collyriums: the one liquid, the other dry. Liquid collyriums were composed of ophthalmic powders, or waters, such as rose-water, plantain-water, that of fennel, eyebright, etc, in which was dissolved tutty, white vitriol, or some other proper powder. Dry collyriums were pastilles of Rhasis, sugar-candy, iris, tutty prepared and blown into the eye with a little pipe.
The Sunan Abu Dawood reports, “Prophet Muhammad said: 'Among the best types of collyrium is antimony (ithmid) for it clears the vision and makes the hair sprout.'” Maimonides (12th century Egypt) mentions the use of this eye salve.
- Sunan Abu-Dawud (Ahmad Hasan translation). Book 32, Number 4050.
- Hilchot Shabbat 18:2
- This article incorporates text from a publication now in the public domain: Chambers, Ephraim, ed. (1728). "article name needed". Cyclopaedia, or an Universal Dictionary of Arts and Sciences (first ed.). James and John Knapton, et al.
- "Collyrium". Oxford English Dictionary. Oxford University Press. 2nd ed. 1989.
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