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Conjunctivitis cases on the rise

R. Sujatha

Keep away from work: doctors

CHENNAI : Conjunctivitis or `Madras Eye' has infected more persons in the city because those who had been affected did not isolate themselves, say doctors. Most hospitals and eye clinics have seen a steady rise in the number of people walking in with the viral infection.

It spreads not by looking into a person's eye but mostly when one comes into contact with fomites (objects used by the affected person). The patients also have mild fever and sore throat, says P. Kanthamani, consultant at Krishna Eye and ENT Hospitals.

"In north Chennai people stay in large groups, often in joint families. We still get 20 or 25 cases every day," says S. Lalith Kumar, an ophthalmologist in Sowcarpet. The epidemic, he said, was first noticed a few days before Deepavali in October.

Viral conjunctivitis disrupts the routine work. But it is imperative that infected persons should be isolated. Doctors reiterate that they should stay away from work as watery discharge is loaded with virus. The isolation also helps the patient get some rest.

Doctors say infection could spread at home by not isolating personal belongings like cosmetics, soap, towels and pillow covers. Avoid handkerchief or towel to clean eyes. Use disposable tissues and wash hands immediately. Do not rub but gently dab the eyes at the corners to prevent haemorrhagic or red spots, they say.

Tips

Cold compressions ease pain, itching

Cidofovir (vistide) is a specific antiviral for adenoviral conjunctivitis

Use dark glasses to minimise involuntary hand-eye contact

Avoid any activity that strains your eyes

Wait for watery discharge to stop before returning to work; redness under lids takes time to disappear

Avoid solution from the same eye drop bottle for the unaffected eye or on persons not infected

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