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.
The same name was also given to unguents used for the same purpose, such as unguent of tutty. Lastly, the name was given, though improperly, to some liquid medicines used against venereal diseases.
The word collyrium comes from the Greek ''κολλύρον, eye-salve.