Hot and humid weather, as well the floods caused by incessant rain, have raised viral conjunctivitis cases among children and adults by 40 per cent in the national capital, doctors said here on Tuesday.
Conjunctivitis or pink eye is the inflammation or infection of the transparent membrane that lines your eyelid and eyeball.
Typical symptoms include redness and a gritty sensation in the eye, along with itching. Often, a discharge forms a crust on your eyelashes during the night.
"Number of patients coming with conjunctivitis has significantly increased recently. There is about a 40% increase in cases of conjunctivitis in the last week. Recent flood situation and hot and humid season has led to an increase in the number of patients coming with redness of eyes, stinging and burning," Dr Rohit Saxena, professor of ophthalmology, AIIMS, New Delhi, told IANS.
"We are observing about a 30% increase in the number of patients coming with viral conjunctivitis. In viral conjunctivitis, patients usually complain of stickiness of the eyes, burning, irritation and redness," added Dr Ikeda Lal, ophthalmologist at Sir Ganga Ram Hospital, New Delhi.
Dr Saxena noted that children are more prone to conjunctivitis during this season, and precaution should be taken in order to protect eyes especially during this season when weather is hot.
However, "the use of over-the-counter medications, particularly for children, is not recommended. Children's eyes are still developing, and any interference with their growth and function can lead to long-term vision problems or other complications," Dr Nilesh Giri, consultant ophthalmologist and eye surgeon, Surya Mother and Child Super Speciality Hospital, Pune, told IANS.
Pune is also seeing an increase in the viral cases of eye flu.
Dr Giri said that the current outbreak of conjunctivitis is primarily caused by the adenovirus, which is a common virus responsible for conjunctivitis. It is a self-limiting condition, and no specific antiviral medications are effective against it. The infection typically resolves within 10-15 days.
However, to minimise the risk of contracting the infection, it is essential to avoid touching one's eyes consciously and to refrain from touching potentially common surfaces.
He also advised caution when using over-the-counter (OTC) medications containing high-dose steroids, which are generally sold in pharmacies. "These drugs may interfere with the delicate development of the eyes, potentially leading to complications such as corneal opacity and loss of corneal transparency. Severe cases may even require surgical intervention," Dr Giri said.
"Individuals with known allergies or sensitivities to certain components in OTC medications may experience allergic reactions ranging from mild redness to severe swelling," Dr Satya Karna, Director, Department of Ophthalmology, Jaypee Hospital, Noida, told IANS.
"OTC medications may provide symptomatic relief, but they do not address the root cause of conjunctivitis, potentially delaying proper diagnosis and treatment. Steroid eye drops are one such medication," he added.
Doctors advised people to not rub eyes if they itch; wash eyes with clean water; use cold compresses for mild itching. They also stated that people experiencing significant redness, irritation, and excessive watering of the eyes must seek consultation with an ophthalmologist, who is likely to suggest use of lubricating eye drops and antihistamine eye drops, depending on the symptoms.
They also recommended children to avoid crowded places, refrain from sharing items such as towels or napkins, as this could make them vulnerable to the infection, and avoid long hours in direct sun, use protective eyewear and drink lots of water.
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