Every year eye flu sweeps across the country and affects almost every family. You may experience symptoms like redness of the eye, watering, discharge or stickiness of eyelids; gritty or foreign body sensation, swelling of lids or discomfort.
Eye flu or ‘conjunctivitis’ occurs when the outer layer of the eye or conjunctiva gets inflamed. The cause can be infections with virus, bacteria, parasites or even fungus. Allergies are common in hot, dusty or erratic weather conditions and can cause recurrent, chronic episodes of redness and irritation of the eyes. It is important to identify the cause and avoid exposure to the offending agent.
The severity of eye flu varies but the disease is mostly self-limiting and symptoms resolve in a few days.
If symptoms do not improve in 2 to 3 days, contact your eye specialist. If ignored, or incorrectly treated, eye flu can spread from the conjunctiva to the cornea and reduce vision, corneal opacities and cause other complications. You also risk infecting other people.
Children are more vulnerable and can catch infections from classrooms/ play grounds etc. Often they may have a respiratory infection or allergy or fever along with the eye symptoms. Mild red eyes with clear, watery discharge may be viral or allergic but if discharge is thick, pus-like with swelling of lids, a bacterial infection may be the cause. In such cases, being treatment at once and avoid crowded places where you’re more likely to catch infections.
Dr. Mahipal S. Sachdev is chairman, medical director and senior consultant of ophthalmology at Centre For Sight in New Delhi