Pink eye picks pace early this season

With the onset of summer, conjunctivitis is on the prowl. Doctors said though the peak period for the eye disease is yet to come, the number of patients has already started picking up. Since the viral conjunctivitis is highly contagious, the infection can soon assume an alarming proportion if the affected and those who are in their close contact don’t take preventive and precautionary measures.

“The infection itself is self limiting (an illness or condition which will resolve on its own), lasting between three days to two weeks. But, the infection caused by adenovirus is contagious and hence the need for precautionary measures,” said Keshab Haldar, an eye specialist.

If the infection affects only the conjunctiva, it’s easy to tackle. But the real concern is when the infection affects the cornea. According to doctors, in about 20%-30% of all conjunctivitis cases, the infection is more virulent involving the cornea.Since it threatens the vision there is a need for medical attention.

“Of the six cases I handled in the past two weeks, two involved the cornea. Now we have a kit that can detect if the infection is caused by adenovirus. If detected early, we can prevent the infection from spreading to the cornea. But the problem is people come rushing only when the vision is affected,” said Jayangshu Sengupta, cornea and refractive surgeon.

 Also known as the pink eye, the infection peaks during pre and post-monsoon. Though viral infection is the most common cause, other sources of infection are bacteria, chemical irritants, dust and pollens. For severe cases, there are anti-biotic medication and steroid. In majority of the cases, remedies like washing the discharge frequently, eye drops and cold compress can help.
 “Anti-biotic is given to prevent secondary infection. A dangerous trend that is being noticed is that the affected tend to go the medical shop where they are given Moxifloxacin, which is a last line anti-bacterial drug.Random use of this drug is dangerous since it will cause resistance,” said eye specialist Subrata Guha Thakurta.
 Though conjunctivitis is a self-limiting infection that goes away on its own or after treatment with anti-biotics, certain forms might become sight-threatening due to scarring of the cornea. Therefore, in case the symptoms include pain, decreased vision, it’s better to visit an eye specialist.

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