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Conjunctivitis is in the air

High humidity and temperature variation means spread of several viral and bacterial infections. Avoid contact with those infected and do not use dirty towels. Rhythma Kaul writes.

health-and-fitness Updated: Sep 09, 2013 04:09 IST
Rhythma Kaul
Rhythma Kaul
Hindustan Times

High humidity and temperature variation means spread of several viral and bacterial infections.

Apart from viral influenza, it is conjunctivitis — the inflammation of the conjunctiva, the white portion of the eye — that results in a pink eye and watery discharge, which is spreading in the Delhi air.

Though it is quite common to have eye infections during the monsoons, doctors report a recent spike in cases of conjunctivitis and say they have been getting at least two patients daily over the past couple of weeks.

When Debashree Das, 30, an HR professional, woke up with itchy eyes on Friday morning, she did not take it seriously and went to work as usual.

However, by afternoon, the itching had become worse and she also noticed the skin surrounding her eyes had turned pink.

She was diagnosed with a mild form of bacterial conjunctivitis.

“More cases have started pouring in over the past week. Of 100 patients in my outpatient department, 10 will be conjunctivitis cases, and most of these are contagious ones. However, there is no threat of the disease reaching epidemic proportions,” said Dr Harbansh Lal, vice-chairman, department of ophthalmology, Sir Ganga Ram Hospital.

Staphylococci, streptococci and chlamydial organisms are commonly responsible for causing the eye infection.

However, in some cases, pink and watery eyes are a reaction to dust and the sun.

The eye tends to get affected if there’s a respiratory tract infection.

Mild conjunctivitis is usually self-limiting and can be easily treated with antibiotics. However, if cornea gets involved then the vision may turn hazy.

The spread of conjunctivitis is faster nowadays because of the closed environment we live in. One infected person runs the risk of infecting 10 other people at school, work and other public places.

Doctors advise proper hygiene to limit its spread. Contact with the infected persons and use of dirty towels should be avoided.

“If you don’t touch your eyes, chances of your contracting the infection are minimal,” added Dr Lal.

“One should avoid using steroid-based eye drops without consulting,” Dr Uma Mallaiah, department of ophthalmology, Apollo Hospital.

Instead of washing infected eyes with cold water, use warm water for relief that is sterile, suggest eye specialists.

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