After H1N1 and seasonal flu, conjunctivitis is taking a toll on the school students.
Aayush Mathur (14; name changed), a Class IX student at Sardar Patel Vidyalaya, has been home for 15 days with swollen, red eyes. “I had to take leave from work to take care of him,” Vivek Mathur, Aayush’s father, says.
Over the past week, many hospitals reported at least a couple of conjunctivitis cases daily. “We get two to three conjunctivitis cases daily, surprising as an outbreak generally happens during the rains. There is, however, no threat of the disease reaching epidemic proportions,” says Dr K.P.S. Mallik, professor and head of department Ophthalmology, Safdarjung hospital.
Private hospitals—like Centre for Sight in Safdarjung Enclave —however, haven’t reported any cases. “Sporadic cases are reported through the year. Such cases indicate bacterial origins of the infection, which is not self-limiting and needs to be treated with antibiotic eyedrops,” says Dr Mahipal Singh Sachdev, director, Centre for Sight.
“Infections spread faster nowadays due to the closed environment we live in. One infected person can infect 10 others at public places,” says Dr Suranjeet Chatterjee, senior consultant internal medicine, Indraprastha Apollo Hospitals.
Doctors advise people to maintain hygiene to limit its spread; avoid contact with an infected person, and not use a dirty towel or handkerchief as it can aggravate the problem.
Experts advise against self-medication or experimenting with home remedies. “Self-medication is a definite no, as it can do more harm than good. Using excessive eye medicines can result in dry eyes and irritation," said Dr Chatterjee. Wash infected eyes with warm water, not cold water, say eye specialists.