For some reason people dread the word Conjunctivitis. What is it and what does it mean if you have conjunctivitis? Conjunctivitis or a red eye is an infectious condition. Infectious condition means that it can spread to others from you. There have been a few reports that COVID-19 can spread through the eyes. Also, patients suffering with conjunctivitis may have Covid-19. These reports are very few and there is nothing to worry about.
Here are five things which you can do to avoid the spread of Conjunctivitis:
1. Do not touch your eye and when I say do not touch your eye, I mean you cannot scratch or itch your eye at all. This can be challenging if you have conjunctivitis because your eyes would get really itchy and to not itch requires some serious self-control. There are certain eye drops that can reduce itching and thus prevent you from touching the eye again and again. Consult your eye doctor for those drops.
2. If you want to wipe your eye, please use tissue paper and not a handkerchief or a napkin. What happens with a napkin or kerchief is that we tend to keep holding it in our hands to put it into our hand bags or pant pockets. The infection from the eyes stays on the napkin and can thus spread easily. Tissue paper is great because once the tissue paper is used, you can throw it in a dustbin and you don’t have to worry about spreading of the infection.
3. To use the hand sanitizer, it is to be used by the patient and even by the members of the family to prevent the spread of infection. We all have realised and seen for ourselves how difficult it is to stop the spread of coronavirus. We all have heard stories of people who have not stepped out of their homes who have got covid. Now, conjunctivitis is mostly caused by viruses. Sometimes bacteria and other organisms can also cause conjunctivitis. These viruses are very similar to the flu virus and thus one could say very similar to the coronavirus in the way that it can spread. Whether you like it or not, it’s very likely that you may have touched your eye or the skin around the eye which had the virus on it and by touching other things at home you can spread the virus to others at home. It is thus critical that you keep washing your hands or using a hand sanitizer to prevent the spread of conjunctivitis.
4. Another way to reduce the risk of transmission is to not share the pillow, pillow cover and bedsheets with other people at home. When one has conjunctivitis, their eyes water a lot. This liquid will infect the sheets and pillows and may transmit the infection.
5. And the most important thing is to use the eye drops, as prescribed by your doctor. There are usually a few eye drops. One is an antibiotic to prevent secondary bacterial infection. One is a lubricant to give you some comfort from all the itching and irritation. There could also be another drop which helps with the itching.
(Dr Deepak Garg is a Cataract and Squint specialist and Founder of Eye Solutions, Mumbai)