Sore In The Eye Is No More Benign
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21 September 2010
By Shailvee Sharda
Unknown and a more virulent strain of virus causing conjunctivitis affects more people and prolongs suffering this season, reports
Viral conjunctivitis seems to have lost its benign nature this season. "Severity of the disease is much more high than previous years. In fact I have never seen such symptoms in my 40–year old career," said Dr VB Pratap, retired head of ophthalmology department, Chhatrapati Shahuji Maharaj Medical University (CSMMU).
Significantly, newspaper reports citing experts in Delhi, Mumbai and Bengaluru have accounted similar findings. In Delhi, a team from National Centre for Disease Control in association with local hospitals is working to isolate the strain.
Ophthalmologists at government hospitals including CSMMU – where patients are with watery and itchy pink eyes are queuing in large numbers – revealed that severity of the haemorrhage (that causes redness of eye during conjunctivitis) was very high.
"Though conjunctivitis is a self–limiting disease and goes naturally in 5–6 days, high grade haemorrhage has extended the span of suffering to 10–12 days," said Dr Arun, faculty at CSMMU’s ophthalmology department.
"We always considered conjunctivitis as a benign problem compared to other monsoon–ailments like dengue and malaria. But this time, it seems to have left all problems behind," said Dr RS Dubey, chief medical superintendent, Ram Manohar Lohia Hospital.
He added that there has been a spurt in the last two weeks. In fact, ophthalmology OPD in a government hospital is attending at least 15–20 patients a day. "More adults than children are facing the brunt of conjunctivitis this year," said Dr Abhishek Dubey, medical superintendent of Balrampur Hospital.
Experts at Indian Medical Association and Lucknow Association of Practising Pathologists and Microbiologists (LAPPM) said that the viral form of conjunctivitis is very contagious. if care is not taken then this may convert into bacterial form – a more lethal version of conjunctivitis.
They believed that currency notes, door–handles, staircase railings and lift push buttons were the prime breeding grounds for the infection. "Whenever a patient of conjunctivitis touches the infected eye, the microbes get transferred to the fingers and subsequently to object contacted. Items, specially currency notes, are one of the biggest carriers of the virus," said Dr PK Gupta, president, LAPPM.
They strictly warned against self–medication and advised washing hands several times a day. Doctors say that majority of people suffering conjunctivitis tend to buy eyedrops over–the–counter, many of which are steroid based. "This can be extremely harmful and should be avoided as it may cause sight–threatening complications like cornea abrasions and even blindness," said Dr Hemant Kumar, a private practitioner in the city.