Viral conjunctivitis - a common eye problem after Pakistan Floods
Viral conjunctivitis or Aashob-e-Chasham (in Urdu) is emerging as a common eye problem in Pakistan, after the worst ever floods of human history. It has affected even persons, who have not been directly exposed to the floods. Having worked in Nowshehra, Pakistan in the last week, I recognized that 90 percent of the patients presented to me with this eye problem.
What is this Viral conjunctivitis or Aashob-e-Chasham?
It is an acute viral infection of external eye. It is spread through direct contact such as with hands, sharing tools like towels, soap, bed. Some people say that it spreads by aerosol.
What are the symptoms?
The above patient, shown in the picture, presented with,
The condition usually starts in one eye and spreads to the other eye. The patient can also present with watering, foreign body sensation & purulent discharge. The pain is typically worse at night & increases when the patient bends forward.
What is the treatment?
To be straight forward, viral conjunctivitis does not require any treatment. It improves by itself in 2-3 weeks. The home treatment includes frequent washing of the eyes with cold water & cold compressions. If the complains get severe enough, immediately seek medical attention, in which case you will be prescribed artificial tears, antibiotics and a short course of mild steroids.
How is it prevented?
Prevention is of utmost importance because once infected, you are able to pass it to others in community, which can happen in people affected with floods. If you touched your eye, don't shake hand with others until you wash them with a good soap properly. Also don't share your towel, soap, bed & other tools with people. This should be taken very seriously to prevent further spread.