Conjunctivitis: Rules of Facebook do not apply here

Commonly known as Madras eye, conjunctivitis is highly contagious. People often mistakenly assume that looking into the infected person’s eye spreads it. But it is the physical contact that is culprit.

Conjunctivitis , is one of the most contagious eye infection. It spreads as an epidemic through schools, families and institutions. Suddenly you would see a large population wearing sunglasses. Sunglasses are no protection against conjunctivitis as is often believed. They only relieve symptoms of pain on exposure to light. Ironically, if proper precautions are not observed they by themselves help in spreading the disease.

A meticulous attention to hygiene, hand washing, and treatment can mitigate the symptoms and control the spread of infection. Most cases of conjunctivitis are due to infection either viral or bacterial and allergy or exposure to certain irritants.

The condition is recognised by redness of the eye, associated with irritation , pain, itching, and discharge from the eyes. The spread from one person to another is through contact. This happens when the infected person is not taking proper precautions, and may have the organism on his hands, which may be passed on by a simple handshake.

Indirect means of transmission are through clothes,  linen, pillows, shared eye drops, contact lenses etc.,

Conjunctivitis can be prevented by following certain precautions:

  1. Regular, frequent hand washing. Using common towel would be counterproductive, hence use tissues, or hand sanitizers.    
  2. If your child has infection, do not touch or rub the eyes.
  3. Avoid sharing unwashed towels, linen, glasses, eye make-up, eye drops or sunglasses.    
  4. Do not use contact lenses. Use glasses.
  5. Wash hands after cleaning eye discharges.
  6. Do not use swimming pools.    
  7. Affected people should be made to stay indoors.    
  8. Eye drops to be instilled without touching the eyes and wash hands after instillation.    

Rule of Thumb is : On Facebook when you ‘like’ something you can ‘share’. In conjunctivitis, howsoever you may ‘like’ things of affected persons: please do not ‘share’! Also “ Wash your hands off ” every time you come in contact with affected person or items which s/he has used. 

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