Are your eyes red? Beware

CAUSE FOR CONCERN Red eye spreads rapidly  

Conjunctivitis is a highly infective condition and must be treated immediately

Many decades ago, conjunctivitis became an epidemic in Madras (Chennai), and since then has come to be known by this unique term "Madras Eye".Epidemic conjunctivitis is a fast spreading viral conjunctivitis due to infection by Adeno - virus. This virus multiplies and spreads in humid and cold weather conditions and every year, occurs in October-November during the monsoon season. This year, the epidemic has been particularly serious with severe signs and symptoms, due to increase in virulence of the virus. Red eyes, swollen lids, patchy haemorrhages under the conjunctiva, which take a very long time to disappear can be seen. Watering, irritation, foreign body sensation, mild pain and discomfort are other symptoms. When a person frequently wipes the eye with a handkerchief, or touches the eye often, a bacterial infection also sets in leading to thick yellowish white discharge.Since this is a highly infective condition, those affected by it must wear dark glasses, stay away from school, college, work place for a day or two to prevent it from spreading to others. Isolate yourself from other family members and avoid sharing the same towels, handkerchiefs and pillows and wash these items separately. Use sterile cotton/wipes/swabs to clean the eye and then dispose these carefully. Wash your hands with anti-septic soaps after using the prescribed eye drops. Consult an eye doctor immediately and he will prescribe according to the severity and needs of the individual patient. Do not buy "over the counter" eye medications directly from the pharmacy or use the same medication prescribed to another member of the family, since many other serious eye problems can manifest as a red eye. The eye can be red and inflamed in acute glaucoma (a blinding eye disease), Herpes infection, trachoma, allergic eye conditions, injuries and when a foreign body enters the eye. The dictum is "if the eye is red, consult your eye specialist immediately" for accurate diagnosis and treatment.