Over the past few weeks, the city has become a breeding ground for yet another infection – conjunctivitis.

Every year, after the first spell of rains, clinics and hospitals see an increase in the number of patients reporting with the infection. The viral infection is generally reported in late September and October and by December, the infection recedes. Only some localities in parts of north Chennai report the infection between December and February.

Conjunctivitis is usually a self-limiting infection which clears with medication and adequate rest. But eye doctors say they are seeing a virulent form of the infection this year. In some cases, the infection has not subsided even after four or five days. Instead, patients continue to suffer for as long as three weeks, said K. Vasantha, former director of the Regional Institute of Ophthalmology.

“In my clinic I have been getting at least two or three cases every day and patients are irritated that the infection does not subside even after two or three weeks. The virus seems to be virulent but the good news is that the cornea has not been affected in these cases,” she said.

The Government Ophthalmic Hospital in Egmore has also been receiving a few patients, said director in-charge K. Maragatham. “Two students who came from Tambaram exhibited mild symptoms of conjunctivitis. We received a few patients yesterday also,” she said.

Amar Agarwal, director of Agarwal’s Eye Hospital said that when water stagnates after showers, it becomes a breeding ground for the organisms. “Rain helps the organism thrive, gaining nutrition from the humid climate. We have been treating these organisms for a long time and now they are becoming resistant to drugs. That is why it is taking longer for the infection to subside. Because the healing process is delayed, people resort to self-medication and even pharmacies distribute the medicines,” he said.

Doctors say conjunctivitis normally does not damage the cornea but relying on self-medication can affect the cornea and this could result in loss of sight too.

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