The intermittent showers are bringing with them a common infection – conjunctivitis.

Private practitioners have been receiving one or two patients a day while the Government Ophthalmic Hospital in Egmore has been treating four or five patients daily.

The infection can be caused by both bacteria and virus. Unlike the bacterial infection, viral conjunctivitis is self-limiting and can be treated with antibiotic drops.

Conjunctivitis, in which the conjunctiva of the eye is inflamed, leaves the patient with a gritty feeling in the eyes. The eyes also swell up and there is heavy discharge. As the infection is contagious and spreads when a person comes in contact with an object used by an infected person, it is important for the patient to remain secluded.

Private practitioners say they have not seen a steady stream of patients so far but admit that after the first spell of rain, the infection has surfaced.

Amar Agarwal of Dr. Agarwal’s Eye Hospital attributes the infection to stagnation of water. “Stagnant water is a breeding ground for infecting organisms. By and large these are viral infections but they get hard to treat when patients self-medicate. Also, remember that every red eye does not mean conjunctivitis,” he adds. He advises patients to seek treatment from a doctor instead of relying on the pharmacist for medicines.

M.S. Rajarathinam, director of Regional Institute of Ophthalmology at Egmore, said he had treated two patients on Friday in his clinic. At the hospital, ever since the showers began, patients have been trickling in.

“It is a viral infection and we have been receiving at least four or five patients daily for a week now. What requires attention is preventing self-medication as this could sometimes lead to ulcers of the cornea. When that happens it becomes difficult to treat the eye,” Dr. Rajarathinam said.

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