Wet surroundings, high levels of humidity, stagnant water and a general dip in hygiene — a scenario that typifies the Mumbai monsoon — brings along with it a host of eye infections. Says consultant ophthalmologist Dr Ryan D’Souza, “This, coupled with a general decrease in immunity due to associated infections and allergies, especially of the paranasal sinuses and upper respiratory tract, make the eyes more prone to various ailments.”
Conjunctivitis on the rise
Conjunctivitis is a highly contagious eye infection that’s common during monsoon. The last three weeks have witnessed an increase in its incidence in Mumbai. “Conjunctivitis cases are reported every monsoon, but this year, it is manifold,” says consultant ophthalmologist Dr Keiki R Mehta, adding that the infection is caused either by enterovirus or adenovirus. While the latter causes hemorrhagic conjunctivitis — 10 to 20% of the cases belong to this category — the former leads to pharyngoconjunctival fever, which includes sore throat, fever and conjunctivitis.
General physician Dr Saleem Tole, who has encountered about 20 to 25 cases of conjunctivitis in a month, has observed that in about 10 cases patients have complained about blurry vision. “The blurring of vision aspect is something that I haven’t come across before. This mostly happened during summer but it can’t be totally ruled out during the monsoons,” he says.
The symptoms of normal conjunctivitis include the sensation of a foreign body in the eye, watering, discharge and redness. Usually, one eye gets affected followed by the second. The inner corners of the eye and the inner parts of the lids swell and turn red. Watery, mucous or pus-like discharge glues the lids. The infection lasts for three-to-five days and antibiotic eye drops are administered for relief.
“Irritation and heaviness of eyes, sensitivity to light, red spots — small or big, swelling of the glands in front of the ears, fever and common cold with throat ache can be associated with certain subtypes of viral conjunctivitis,” adds Dr Mehta.
-Conjunctivitis spreads through direct contact. So, affected persons must avoid crowded places.
-Avoid air-conditioned places as the infection spreads faster in such an atmosphere.
-Isolate personal belongings — cosmetics, soaps, towels, pillow covers, etc.
-Use disposable tissues instead of handkerchiefs or towels to dab (do not rub them) your eyes.
-Keep washing your hands. Gently dab the tears to prevent hemorrhages or red spots.
-Do not sleep on the unaffected side.
Other common eye infections
This causes a lump along the eyelid. “It is a bacterial infection caused by the blockage of the ducts of the glands present in eyelids,” explains ophthalmologist Dr Anagha Heroor. Eye stye can be cured with wet and warm compresses. In case of increased irritation and pain, antibiotics and nonsteroidal, anti-inflammatory medication are prescribed.
Frequent rubbing, especially by contact-lens wearers, may contaminate the external surface of the eye. It could result in a serious, potentially blinding condition called corneal ulcer. “This is typified by redness, moderate to severe pain, increased watering and sensitivity to light. It may also be associated with a yellowish-green sticky discharge and white lesions on the pupil of the eye,” explains Dr D’Souza. This condition needs immediate medical attention. Once the symptoms start, wear protective eyewear and avoid contact with the eye till a doctor examines you.
Dry eyes in monsoon? Yes, exposure to cold air and wind can cause this condition. “Our eyes require constant flow of tears — moisturising is a must to sustain vision. An imbalance in tear flow may cause dry eyes, which leads to irritation and blurred vision. This condition can also be caused by excessive heat, smoke, fumes and chemicals. Though curable with eye drops, surgery may be required in some cases,” says Dr Heroor.
Don’t play doctor
Whatever be the nature of your eye infection, don’t self-medicate. Steroid eye drops — available over-the-counter — can worsen the infection. In severe cases, it could even lead to corneal ulcers and blindness.