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Conjunctivitis (Pink Eye) Cases Surge Amidst Heavy Monsoon Rains Across Delhi-NCR

Conjunctivitis (Pink Eye) Cases Surge Amidst Heavy Monsoon Rains Across Delhi-NCR

Written By Rajan Das

Delhi-NCR is witnessing a surge in conjunctivitis cases amid heavy rainfall in the past few weeks. Conjunctivitis, also known as pink eye, is a common eye infection that causes inflammation, redness, itching, and discharge in the eyes. It is usually caused by viruses, bacteria, or allergens, and can spread easily through contact with infected people or objects.

According to Dr. JS Titiyal, Chief of RP Centre for Ophthalmic Sciences at AIIMS, the national capital is reporting around 100 cases of conjunctivitis per day. According to him, there is a seasonal increase in conjunctivitis instances that correlates with flu season. He added that most of the cases are viral and self-limiting, meaning they resolve on their own without any specific treatment.

However, he also advised that general hygiene measures should be followed to prevent the spread of the infection. He suggested washing hands frequently, especially after coming from outside, avoiding close contact with anyone who has eye flu, using dark goggles to protect the eyes from dust and sunlight, avoiding swimming and sharing personal items like towels or eye makeup, and consulting an eye specialist if the symptoms persist or worsen.

Dr. Harsh Kumar, an ophthalmologist at Centre for Sight, also echoed the same precautions and said that people should avoid crowded places and touching common objects like railings or handles. He said that antibiotic eye drops can be used to treat bacterial conjunctivitis, but they are ineffective against viral conjunctivitis. He warned that using steroid eye drops without a doctor’s prescription can be harmful and lead to complications like glaucoma or cataract.

Dr. Samir Sud, director and co-founder of Sharp Sight Eye Hospitals, said that his hospital has seen a significant increase in conjunctivitis cases compared to the same period last year. In July 2023, his hospital reported 1,032 cases of conjunctivitis in Delhi-NCR and 1,521 cases across India. He stated that the increase in numbers needs more awareness and quick action to successfully stop the development of this eye ailment.

He said that conjunctivitis can affect anyone, regardless of age or gender, and can cause discomfort and irritation in the eyes. He said that some of the common symptoms of conjunctivitis are redness, swelling, itching, burning sensation, watery or pus-like discharge, blurred vision, sensitivity to light, and feeling of something in the eye. He said that some of the common causes of conjunctivitis are viruses (such as adenovirus or herpes simplex virus), bacteria (such as staphylococcus or streptococcus), allergens (such as pollen or dust mites), irritants (such as smoke or chemicals), or contact lenses (especially if not cleaned properly).

Schools in Delhi are also witnessing a rise in eye infections, with some students being sent back home daily to curb contagion. Principals reported cases mostly among students from class 4 to 7, with recovery taking three to four days on average.

Health Minister Saurabh Bharadwaj mentioned that Delhi government-run hospitals are on alert, especially regarding cases of conjunctivitis, fungal infections, and vector-borne diseases.

To prevent transmission, medical experts advise maintaining strict hygiene practices, such as regular handwashing, avoiding touching the eyes, and refraining from sharing personal items. The risk of transmitting conjunctivitis can be reduced by washing hands thoroughly and using only antibiotic eye drops.

Furthermore, alongside the rise in conjunctivitis cases, Delhi is also facing an increase in dengue and malaria cases this year. Over 160 dengue cases have been reported in mid-July, the highest number for this period since 2018. Authorities have issued directives to control mosquito breeding and address flood-related concerns in the city.

He said that in order to reduce the risk of transmitting conjunctivitis, it is essential to maintain strict hygiene practices. He said that thoroughly washing hands, avoiding touching the eyes, and refraining from sharing personal items can contribute to preventing the infection’s transmission. He also advised people to seek medical attention if they experience any of the following signs: severe pain in the eye, loss of vision, fever or headache, swollen lymph nodes near the ear or jaw, or rash on the face or body.

He said that conjunctivitis is usually not a serious condition and can be treated easily with proper care and medication. However, he also cautioned that if left untreated or ignored, it can lead to complications like corneal ulceration, scarring, or permanent vision loss. Therefore, he urged people to be vigilant and proactive in taking care of their eyes during this monsoon season.

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