Every year, eye flu (pinkeye or conjunctivitis) sweeps across the country and affects almost every family. Eye flu (pink eye) or ‘conjunctivitis’ occurs when the outer layer gets inflamed.
One may experience symptoms like redness of the eye, discharge, watery eyes or stickiness of eyelids, foreign body sensation and puffiness of lids or discomfort. Eye flu (pink eye) or ‘conjunctivitis’ occurs when the outer layer gets inflamed. Causes of conjunctivitis may vary based on the infections with parasites, bacteria, virus or even fungus.
There is nearly a 10-20% increase in the attendance of people infected with pink eye at Ophthalmologists.
We have doctors from our expert panel to answer a few of the questions for you.
1. Onlymyhealth Editorial: Last year it was the coxsackie virus which was responsible for conjunctivitis. Has the virus strain been identified this year?
Dr Grover: The epidemic reached Delhi just about ten days back. The virus strain hasn’t been biologically identified. Clinically, however, we have noticed two kinds of conjunctivitis – Acute Haemorrhagic Conjunctivitis commonly known as ACH which is caused by Picornavirus or small RNA virus and Epidemic Kerato conjunctivitis.
2. Onlymyhealth Editorial: What precautionary measures must be taken to prevent complications?
1. If a person wears contact lenses then he or she must discontinue using them. The primary reason behind doing this is preventing any involvement of the cornea. Once you hurt your cornea in anyway, there might be a possible loss of vision.
2. In case a person notices inflammation in the eye he or she must see an Ophthalmologist.
3. Any pain in the eye or reduction in vision must be reported so that the doctors can investigate the root cause.
4. Steroid eye-drops are known to cause ulceration in the eye and must only be used if prescribed by doctors.
5. If you notice that your vision is light sensitive, you must see a doctor immediately.
3. Onlymyhealth Editorial: What is the best way to clean your eye after waking up in the morning?
Dr Grover: The best way to clean your eye is to soak cotton wool in cooled boiled water and carefully clean the area around the eye or wherever you see the discharge. The best way to avoid further infection is to rid the eye of the accumulated discharge. This ensures a constant decrease of virus load in the eye.
4. Onlymyhealth Editorial: What kind of medicines or eye drops should be used? Does self-medication work?
Dr Grover: One can take non-steroids anti-inflammatory drugs and decongestants to ease off any discomfort. If you notice any of the symptoms mentioned earlier you must visit a doctor. It is better to be informed than to have impaired vision later on.
1. Onlymyhealth Editorial: What factors can be listed for a sudden spurt of pink eye? Will it be right to say that unfinished construction work in the city is also one of the major reasons behind rise in conjunctivitis cases?
Dr Lal: Humid weather conditions allow virus to multiply at a greater pace. Infact, with the city being dug up, it has now become an ideal breeding ground for bacterias and viruses.
2. Onlymyhealth Editorial: Is there any special care that people who wear contact lenses must take?
Dr Lal: Yes, they must immediately stop using lenses. Only when conjunctivitis has subsided, say in about a week’s time, should they resume wearing them or as advised by the ophthalmologist. They must not wear the lenses which they used on the onset of the infection. Only after keeping the lenses in a disinfectant solution for a whole week they should reuse their contact lenses. They can otherwise put their lenses in boiling distilled water which would take care of the virus.
3. Onlymyhealth Editorial: Does wearing glasses prevent the spread of conjunctivitis?
Dr Lal: People must understand that conjunctivitis does not spread if one looks into the eye of someone who has the infection. Only direct touch can spread the infection. For instance, shaking hands or sharing towels.
4. Onlymyhealth Editorial: What if a family member has eye flu?
Dr. Lal: Since pink flu is self-limiting, avoid direct touch with the person. Ideally if infected, the patient must isolate himself or herself. If one’s partner has eye infection, then they should not sleep together because direct contact with the ailing person can spread the infection. Avoid touching the eye and wash your hands frequently.