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Dr. Anju Harish, Consultant Ophthalmologist, SUT Hospital, Pattom

Life started normal with the onset of covid, but recent changes in the weather have caused various infections. Viral fever with cold, sneezing and blockage of nose, along with pink eye, are more common now than fever with severe temperature. Conjunctivitis is an infection of the thin layer of the eye, the conjunctiva. This is an infectious disease. It can be caused by a virus or bacteria, but the most common cause of pink eye is virus.

Common symptoms include red eyes, watery eyes, itching, sand-like discomfort, and swelling. In addition to this, there may be blepharitis (inflammation of eyelid), which prevents the eyelids from opening, and discomfort when looking at light. People with viral conjunctivitis also experience colds, low-grade fever, and discharge from the eye.

90% of conjunctivitis is due to viral infection. It spreads very quickly. The next person may start showing symptoms within 48 hours. Since it spreads through contact, if care is not taken, entire members of a family can be infected. It usually does not affect vision significantly. However, in a small percentage of people, if the pupil of the eye (Cornea) is affected, there may be a condition called Keratitis (inflammation of cornea). Then the tissue falls on the cornea and it can affect the vision in the future. Bacterial conjunctivitis can affect both eyes at the same time. The eyelid is so thick that it is impossible to open the eyes and there may be discharge with pus and discomfort.

Avoid self-medication. As soon as you see the symptoms of red eye, consult an ophthalmologist and start treatment. Use eye drops and ointments as prescribed by the doctor. For viral infections, supportive treatment such as decongestants and artificial tears are mainly used. These will help to cure the disease quickly.

How to prevent?
If someone in the house is infected with red eye and if not taken care of, the infection can spread to others very quickly.

  • Personal hygiene is most important.
  • Avoid close contact with infected person.
  • Do not share personal items (towel, soap, pillow) used by the patient and also disinfect these.
  • Use a tissue paper or cotton swab to wipe the eye and dispose of it carefully.
  • Do not visit public places at the period of infection. Avoid contact with people as much as possible. Be aware that swimming pools and 3D glasses used in cinemas are sources of infection.
  • People who wear contact lenses should replace them with spectacles when infected.
  • Avoid rubbing the eyes. Wash the eyes frequently with clean water.
  • It may not be completely sterile if it is taken from a source that is not sufficiently clean.
  • Elaneer kuzhambu and coriander water are not remedies for red eye.

The infection usually subsides in 3 to 5 days. If the redness of the eye turns white and the pus decreases and then eye become clear, it can be considered as the infection has cleared. As it spreads very quickly in young children, do not send them to school until they are completely cured. Similarly, adults should consult a doctor before returning to work to ensure that the disease has resolved. Conjunctivitis is an infectious disease that spreads very quickly. But we can prevent it from spreading through proper personal hygiene and proper treatment.