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Eye Care - Conjunctivitis & Eye Infections & Allergies

Conjunctivitis & Eye Infections & Allergies:
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Conjuctivitis is spread typically by touch. Many a time people wear dark glasses in an effort to prevent the disease spreading. A popular misconception is that by looking into another persons eye the disease spreads. However nothing can be further from the truth.If that were so eye doctors would be the most frequent sufferers. It spreads by touch, using the same toiletries and towels Can you be certain that the last person who had red eye and touched his infected eye washed his hands with soap and water before hanging onto the BEST bus pole. So, we meet many people during the day, indirectly by touching the same surfaces that they touched before. As eye doctors we know this and never touch our faces or eyes before we clean our hands with antibacterial scrub or soap.

Viral Conjuctivitis can occur along with viral corneal disease typically herpes. Many a time the red eye a child has is the first sign of impending chicken pox spread by the chicken pox virus. Pink eye along with rash on the body means the child must be taken to a paediatrician for a second look.Viral conjunctivitis has a different look to it that the eye doctor will recognize. Frequently certain signs appear on the cornea like spots. Lymph nodes in front of the ear are also frequently inflamed. The eye may have a small hemorrhage like a red blotch on its surface. Viral conjunctivitis typically runs its course and takes more than a week to settle down.

Even newborn babies can have conjunctivitis if the mother was infected by veneral disease. Thankfully such cases are rare today but were a common cause of blindness at the turn of the century (1900,s).

In the old days Trachoma was common especially in the north of the country and in Egypt and Africa. Today its nearly been eradicated.

Conjuctivitis does not necessarily have to be because of an infection. Notable are chemical conjunctivitis due to the use of chemicals in the eye by accident or on purpose like in the case of mustard gas poisoning in wartime. People have a habit of putting various substances in their eyes. Rose water, honey, milk, urine (yes urine) are only some of the “tonics” used by people in an effort to heal a problem or gain better vision. There are even cases recorded where mothers milk, camels milk, olive oil etc have made their way into the eye!

The treatment of infectious conjunctivitis is fairly simple and consists of antibiotic eyedrops and in severe cases oral antibiotics.

What to do when you have infectious conjunctivitis?

Don’t send the child to school until the infection has subsided.

Don’t touch or rub the eyes.

If you do touch the eye wash your hands with soap before touching anybody else.

Keep a box of tissues to wipe away discharge and don’t use the same handkerchief.

Keep the infected persons face towel, pillowcover etc separate.

Eye allergies are very common. In the United States, ocular allergies are known to affect more than 20% of the general population and in the United Kingdom, a prevalence of 18.2% has been reported. The combination of allergic nasal and ocular symptoms (rhinoconjunctivitis) is extremely common in adults and children. The eye responds to other allergies by turning red and watering. Can we forget that when we have a cold and nasal allergy the eyes are watery and red. This is most common in children with a penchant for allergy and occurs with skin rashes and nasal stuffiness. Treating the systemic allergy and finding out what the childs allergic to usually solves the problem.

So what are kids allergic to

Dust and dust mites on old curtains linen, sofa covers carpets etc.
· Milk.
· Pollen.
· Pet hair.
· Chocolate, fish, egg.

Typically the child will be rubbing his eyes which are usually swollen and red in severe cases. The lids become thick and on the underside of the eyelid swollen areas called papillae are seen.Mucus discharge whitish and sticky is frequently seen. If untreated eye allergy in children can even cause corneal ulcers and other eye problems.

The treatment of eye allergy is with eyedrops which blunt the allergy in the eye. Initially a steroid eyedrop is usually prescribed which is then tapered off and a non steroidal allergy medicine is substituted. In children its useful to try and find whats causing the allergy.

A common problem is that parents will overuse the steroid drops in an effort at self medication, the side effect of which can be cataract later and even eye pressure rise. So all these, medications must be only under the doctors guidance at all times.

Finally coming to contact lens allergy. Frequently we come across patients who after wearing the contact lens for a few months complain of eye redness and itching every time they wear the lens. This is because protein from the tears accumulates on the lens which is cleaned inadequately and irritates the eye. This needs special cleaning by the eye doctor and if necessary discarding the lens.

Eye allergies are fairly easy to treat today but requires persistence both on the part of the patient and the doctor.

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