Kathmandu:

A recent phenomena noticed in the Capital is that almost one in every five people is sporting dark glasses. This is not a style statement but has become a necessity after the recent outbreak of conjunctivitis or red eyes as commonly known, which is very contagious.

Conjunctivitis is an inflammation of the conjunctiva — the outermost layer of the eye and the inner surface of the eyelids — most commonly due to an allergic reaction or a bacterial and viral infection. When you are infected with the virus, your eyes may seem to be pasted shut from the discharge from your eyes. The whites of your eyes may begin to have a pink discoloration, and you may not see as clearly as you did before.

Though the inflammation causes irritation, it rarely affects the sight. But because it is contagious, it should be treated early. The virus that causes conjunctivitis is similar to that of common cold and surfaces during the rainy season.

“Just like common cold, viral conjunctivitis too has its time period. With in a week or so the infected eye will heal on its own. The medicine given is to stop the virus from spreading. As the virus spreads from one eye to another, the antibiotics helps in preventing that,” says Dr Keshar Singh Malla of Eye Clinic, Bagbazaar.

Prevention

• Do not touch your eyes with your hands.

• Wash your hands thoroughly and frequently.

• Change your towel and don’t share them with others.

• Wash any discharge from your eyes twice a day using a fresh

cotton ball or paper towel and discard them.

• Wash your bed linen, pillowcases, and towels in hot water and detergent.

• Avoid wearing and sharing eye makeup, particularly mascara and kaajal.

• Wear glasses instead of contact lenses. Follow your eye doctor’s instructions on proper contact lens care.

• Use cold water compress.

• Do not use eye drops in a non-infected eye that were used for an infected one.

“Use eye drops with chloramphenicol or ciprofloxacin in the afternoon, and ointment at night. For infants below two, only ointment with chloramphenicol composition should be used,” advises Dr Malla.

Symptoms

• Redness in one or both eyes

• Itchiness in one or both eyes

• Blurred vision and sensitivity to light

• Greater amount of tears

• Thick yellow discharge that crusts over the eyelashes, especially after sleep

• Other discharge from the eye (green or white)

“Though the infection does not require emergency treatment, it’s important to get diagnosis and treatment. As children are at a higher risk of infection, an infected child needs to stay home so that he doesn’t pread it at his school,” says Dr Malla.

Conjunctivitis may be contagious from seven to 14 days after signs and symptoms first appear.