Doctors say that the latest strain of the infection scars the cornea and affects vision if not treated on time
Madras Eye or conjunctivitis is no longer what it used to be – an infection that needed a few days to get sorted out. It’s more aggressive now, affecting the cornea and vision and ophthalmologists say the curative period extends to nearly a month.
Dr Rohit Shetty, vice-chairman and cornea surgeon of Narayana Nethralaya said, “The virus is becoming more aggressive. It scars the cornea and affects vision. If treated early, patients will get back 100 per cent of their vision. But even after the symptoms vanish, it’s best to consult a doctor again since the cornea normally gets affected within seven to eight days. Most people don’t and that can be dangerous.”
Leela Narayan, an IT professional and resident of Vijayanagar, has just come out of a horrifying experience when she thought she would lose her vision completely.
It all started with her eyes becoming red. “My eyes were itching and watering. Two days later, I went to the doctor who told me that I had conjunctivitis and prescribed medicines. However, the itching worsened and I would end up rubbing my eyes. Two days later, my vision became blurred and I could not see clearly. My mind went blank and I was in a state of shock. Scared, I called the doctor, who asked me to go to the hospital immediately. They changed the dose of medicines, saying the infection had scarred my cornea. It took me two weeks to completely recover but it was such a nightmare.”
Rama Srihari, a homemaker and resident of Jayanagar, faced a similar problem around two weeks back. It started off as a throat infection which she ignored. “But in two days, I had severe pain and redness in the eye. What was shocking was that my vision was blurring. I panicked and rushed to the hospital where the doctor told me that I was suffering from viral conjunctivitis. They assured me that I would get back my vision, but I was still worried.”
Viral Variety – Dangerous
Dr Rajashekar Y L, managing director, Shekar Netralaya, said that unlike bacterial conjunctivitis, which spreads only through contact, the viral variety is air-borne. Of the 10 to 15 cases at the hospital every day, at least four to five are viral cases which are characterised by more pain and watering.
“In many cases, such parents also have flu-like symptoms like fever and sore throat. But despite that, they go to work in an AC environment, which helps to spread the disease,” he said.
As Dr Kaushik Murali, consultant paediatric opthalmologist, Sankara Eye Hospital, says: “The major problem is that once symptoms like redness of the eyes subside, people resume their normal lives which ensures that the virus spreads.”
The fact that it’s winter and many people prefer to stay indoors makes matters worse.
SymptomsRedness of the eye
- Itching White discharge
- Pain in the eye
- Difficulty in facing light
- Fever and sore throat
PrecautionsThose with the infection should stay off work till it is completely cured.
- Stay away from people with sore throat and fever.
- Wash your hands regularly.
By Neethu.Reghukumar @timesgroup.com