Don't ignore the pink eye: As cases rise, know what leads to conjunctivitis spike in monsoon; how to avoid
More conjunctivitis cases are being reported in Delhi and Pune this year due to waterlogging. Here's what causes this common eye infection and ways to prevent.
Conjunctivitis cases are on rise at an alarming rate across the country. In Pune's Alandi, as many as 2,300 conjunctivitis cases have been reported in five days while Delhi too has been witnessing 3-4 times more cases than previous year. Due to incessant rain, humid conditions and waterlogging - the ideal conditions for the spread of virus and bacteria, the cases of this common eye infection are on rise. Also known as Eye Flu or pink eye, conjunctivitis can cause red and itchy eyes with sticky discharge. Caused due to allergy or infection, conjunctivitis causes inflammation of the conjunctiva, which covers the white part of the eyeball. Eye Flu is common in monsoon due to high humidity and presence of more pathogens than usual. (Also read: Athlete's foot to nail fungus: Beware of these 7 fungal infections in monsoon)
Washing face regularly, not touching eyes frequently, keeping hygienic surroundings can prevent Eye Flu spread. Parents should encourage children to wash their hands at frequent intervals, not share their handkerchiefs with other kids and avoid touching their eyes.
"Conjunctivitis is a common eye infection that causes inflammation of the conjunctiva, the thin, transparent layer that covers the white part of the eye and lines the inner surface of the eyelids. It is characterized by redness, itching, tearing or sticky discharge and a gritty sensation in the eyes. Conjunctivitis can be caused by various factors, including viral which is also known as Eye Flu, bacterial, or allergic agents," says Dr Chinmay Sanghvi, Consultant Opthalmologist, Wockhardt Hospitals Mira Road in an interview with HT Digital.
WHY CONJUNCTIVITIS CASES RISE IN MONSOON
During the monsoon season, the incidence of conjunctivitis tends to spike due to several reasons. Dr Sanghvi explains:
1. Increased humidity
The monsoon season is characterised by high humidity levels, creating a conducive environment for the growth and spread of viruses and bacteria. This increased moisture provides an ideal breeding ground for pathogens that can cause eye infections.
2. Contaminated water
Inadequate sanitation and waterlogging during the monsoon can lead to the contamination of water sources. Washing the face with contaminated water can introduce harmful microorganisms into the eyes, leading to infections like conjunctivitis.
Monsoon season can bring about an increase in mould/fungus and other allergens in the air. Allergic conjunctivitis can occur when these allergens come into contact with the eyes, leading to redness, itching, and discomfort.
Preventing conjunctivitis amid spike in cases
1. Maintain proper hygiene
Regularly wash your hands with soap and water, especially before touching your eyes. Avoid rubbing your eyes, as this can further irritate them and potentially spread infections.
2. Avoid touching your face
Refrain from touching your eyes, nose, and mouth with unwashed hands to reduce the risk of introducing harmful pathogens into the eyes.
3. Keep the eyes clean
If you have been exposed to dust, dirt, or any potential irritants, consult ophthalmologist or in emergency rinse your eyes with clean water to wash away any foreign particles.
4. Avoid sharing personal items
Do not share towels, handkerchiefs, or other personal items with others, as this can spread infections from one person to another.
5. Use protective eyewear
If you are going outside during the monsoon, wear protective eyewear such as sunglasses to shield your eyes from dust, allergens, and potentially contaminated water.
6. Maintain a clean-living environment
Ensure that your living space is clean and free from dust and allergens. Regularly clean curtains, beddings, and carpets to minimise the presence of allergens.
7. Avoid self-medication
If you experience any eye discomfort or symptoms of conjunctivitis, seek professional medical advice from an ophthalmologist. Avoid self-medicating with over-the-counter eye drops, as they may not be suitable for your specific condition.
8. Stay informed
Stay updated on the weather conditions and potential disease outbreaks in your area. Following advisories and precautions issued by local health authorities can help you stay protected.
9. Boost immunity
A healthy immune system can help protect your body from infections. Eat a balanced diet, exercise regularly, and get enough rest to support your immune system during the monsoon season.
"Conjunctivitis is a common eye infection that becomes more prevalent during the monsoon season due to factors like increased humidity, contaminated water, and the presence of allergens. To prevent conjunctivitis amid a spike in cases, it is essential to maintain proper hygiene, avoid touching the face, use protective eyewear, and seek professional medical advice if experiencing any eye-related symptoms. Taking these precautions can help reduce the risk of eye infections and ensure good eye health during the monsoon season," says Dr Sanghvi.