By Dr.Zufshan Anjum | Hyderabad
HEALTH ALERT Hyderabad and Secunderabad has witnessed a prickly sensation, painful 'Viral Conjunctivitis', a communicable eye disease spreading like a jungle fire. Till date Sarojini Eye Hospital recorded 1700 cases in out patient and 128 cases as in-patients, apart from the 3200 cases reported in other private hospitals.
Afshan Begum, 29, has been battling watery eyes with itchy and prickly sensations since the past one week. A visit to the hospital confirmed a viral conjunctivitis infection. The diagnosis scared Afshan so much that she decided to stay home for the next few days. ‘The doctor advised me to stay away from dust and dirt, so I have taken leave from office.’
‘While there are many strains of the adenovirus, type 8 and 19 are the ones that mainly cause viral conjunctivitis. A change in the weather helps the virus thrive, thereby leading to the infection,’ said Dr. Ejazuddin, ophthalmologist at Olive Hospital in Hyderabad. ‘Although it cannot be considered an epidemic, I have had around 5-10 patients on most days', Dr.Ejaz added.
Main symptoms of viral conjunctivitis include watery and red eyes, pricky feeling and pain. ‘The infection at a later stage can cause white spots on the cornea that may lead to blurring of vision. Crusts start forming on the eyelid within 3-4 days if medical aid is not sought,’ said Dr Harshavardhan Reddy ophthalmologist, Fortis Hospital. While bacterial conjunctivitis easily responds to antibiotics, viruses are more resistant and may take weeks to get cured.
‘In the initial stage, only antibiotic drops and lubricant drops are prescribed. However, if the infection is severe and spreads to the cornea causing white spots, steroids are given. It has to be taken for longer peried of time, say 2-3 months otherwise the spots may not be cured completely,’ said Dr.Reddy.
‘But only milder doses of steroids are prescribed to avoid side-effects,’ added Dr.Ejazuddin.
In order to avoid complications, it is better to seek medical help immediately as delay will only lead to late recovery. Doctors also suggest many precautionary measures that will contribute in not aggravating and spreading the infection.
‘It is a myth that looking at someone having conjunctivitis spreads the infection. Since it spreads through contact, personal hygiene is a must. One must use disposable cotton tissues. One mustn’t rub ones eyes as it may cause corneal abrasions,’ Dr.Reddy said.
- Keep all items of clothing that may come in contact with eyes separate as these may have secretions.
- It is important to wash your hands with a sanitiser after touching the infected eyes.
- Put eye-drops on time as directed by the doctor.
- Do not wear contact lenses.
- Wear glares in order to prevent dust and dirt. Again, keep these away from children as contact spreads infection.
- Do not rub your eyes at all as it will lead to corneal abrasions.