As the monsoon starts, environmental cleaning starts at all levels. Water flowing on roads, trees growing fast, and moisture in the air, all form the perfect incubation chamber for the growth of organisms. Whether they are bacteria, viruses, or parasites; all flourish in this season. In addition, monsoon trips become more and more contagious. All this led to the eyes being affected by conjunctivitis ( AAKH AAYI /DOLE AALET).
There are different forms of conjunctivitis. The most common form is viral conjunctivitis. As you all know, once the monsoon starts, we hear a cough, cold, and fever (upper respiratory tract infections) affecting people now and then. Few of these respiratory viruses cause eye infections. These coughs, colds, and fever either precede or follow viral conjunctivitis. Sometimes, bacterial superadded infections may occur in the eyes. People going on monsoon trips, change of water, exposure to swimming pool contamination, pond water, and even contaminated tap water are one of the reasons for conjunctivitis. Microsporidia is one form of organism that spreads through such water resources and it is present like conjunctivitis. And these cases are on the rise in Pune in this monsoon season.
How will you know that you have conjunctivitis? Or when to visit your doctor?
Patients with conjunctivitis present to us with mild discomforts and watering, associated with mild to severe redness. There may be associated lid swelling.
In the initial days, there may be watering, later discharge from eyes (whitish material collecting at corners of eyes). In the morning, you may have your lids stick together due to discharge.
If the symptoms persist, there may be hypersensitivity to light. All these symptoms vary from patient to patient, depending upon the severity of the infection, and the cause of conjunctivitis.
It is better to visit as early as possible, as redness develops. In long-standing cases, it may lead to blurring of vision, if not addressed properly.
What are the treatment options for Conjunctivitis ?
Once you visit an ophthalmologist, your eyes’ thorough checkup is done on a slit lamp.
Depending upon the severity of symptoms, antibiotics, and lubricating drops are started. In a few patients, if it’s not healing fast, or in more severe cases, mild steroids locally in the eye are prescribed. Oral painkillers are also given depending upon symptoms.
In special cases, where more corneal involvement is there, more special procedures are done in the clinic. Let your ophthalmologist decide which treatment suits you best. Never use counter medications.
Drops taken directly from the pharmacy may not always be safe for everyone. We have observed many patients who take over the counter medications, often use unnecessary medications, many times higher steroids, and sometimes even some dangerous medications.
How to prevent these red eyes?
The first and foremost thing which is more common in Indian culture is to wash eyes with tap water. Our eyes have natural water (tears) which is more than enough to keep eyes clean and in addition, it does provide some innate immunity. Tap water or even filtered water is unnecessary for the eyes. Also, in the monsoon season, most often the water is contaminated (ponds, rivers, swimming pools, etc) and such recurrent exposure to tap water predisposes you to multiple eye infections. So, in any case, do not put any water in your eyes. The small amount entering the eyes while bathing is not that dangerous.
If someone in your house is suffering from conjunctivitis, you all need to follow hygienic precautions. Conjunctivitis is not spread by looking into the affected person’s eyes, but it is spread by contact. So, it is important not to share towels, handkerchiefs, or clothes with an infected person. The infected person himself can protect others from him. Frequent use of sanitizer, less touching of the infected eyes, use of cotton or tissue paper to clean eyes, and disposing of it well.
In children, the spread is very rapid. It may be from the house or play area or school. So avoid sending children to common areas (play areas or school) when they are infected. The same applies to adults, avoid coming in contact with maximum people whether it is at a working place or common area.
Monsoon flourishes nature. Let your eyes be protected by our combined efforts so that you can enjoy this monsoon with clean and healthy eyes.
Article by Dr Seema Chetan, Eye Specialist, Nandadeep Eye Hospital, Pimple Saudagar, Pune