Mumbai: Doctors caught unawares as pink eye cases surge in last two weeks

200 people with conjunctivitis have visited a clinic in Kamathipura; pvt and govt hospitals seeing 15-20 cases every day

Swapnil MishraUpdated: Friday, October 14, 2022, 09:49 PM IST
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Cases of conjunctivitis have surged in the last two weeks, especially in children, raising an alarm over addition to monsoon-related diseases. Conjunctivitis, also called ‘pink eye’, is extremely contagious and manifests as totally pink and watering eyes. The infection spreads through skin to skin or infected surfaces.

This eye infection is commonly caused by bacteria or viruses during the monsoon season. Other symptoms include itching, irritation, and sensation of a foreign body in the eye.

While over 200 patients have already visited the civic-run eye clinic in Kamathipura, most major government and private hospitals are witnessing 15-20 cases every day, which is at least five times higher than the average of two to three cases.

An ophthalmologist said, “We are shocked with this sudden spurt. We are advising patients to rest and stay in complete isolation to avoid spreading the disease.” She attributed the spurt to sudden change in weather, with October rains being unusually persistent.

Eye specialists said this is the ideal time for microorganisms to thrive as atmospheric temperature is perfect for their growth and spread. The primary advice is to remain cautious and use clean water to wash the eyes. Bacteria in contaminated water can lead to a serious infection.

JJ Hospital ophthalmologist Dr TP Lahane said, “As soon as the redness, swelling, water discharge or any kind of other discomfort is experienced, one should consult an ophthalmologist immediately. Self-medication could prove injurious to your eyes, he said. He added that antibiotic eye drops as prescribed by an ophthalmologist should be used. Moreover, the use of contact lenses should be avoided during any kind of eye infection.

Dr Nita Shah, the head of clinical Services at Dr Agarwal’s Eye Hospital in Chembur, said they always come across cases of conjunctivitis when weather changes, especially at the end of the monsoon season. However, this time conjunctivitis seems to be more virulent.

Dr Shah said, “We see at least 10 cases at our centre every day. Many patients also present with some viral cold, cough and/or fever. We request patients to report their symptoms immediately and not self-medicate with over-the-counter drops as they can have long-term side effects,” she said.

Dr Girish Budhrani, the CMO and cornea consultant at RJ Sankara Eye Hospital in Panvel, agreed with Dr Shah over not self-medicating. “Treating the disease early will reduce the intensity of the corneal infection, thereby reducing any further complication that could impact one’s vision. There is a misconception that you can contract the infection by looking at an infected person. This is not true, as this disease is spread only through body and fluid contacts.”

Conjunctivitis Care:

Use eye drops as prescribed by a doctor

Don’t touch your eyes, wash them with clean water

Use a tissue in case of excessive watering and discard it immediately

The infection spreads if one touches the eyes and then surfaces used by other people

Discontinue contact lenses

The condition usually resolves in a couple of days

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