What is Eye Flu?
Eye flu also known as Conjunctivitis(PINK EYE) is a eye infection caused by any allergen (virus,bacteria or pollen grains,dust) resulting in redness, inflammation, itching and watery or mucous discharge in one or both the eyes. The Eye flu is more common during rainy seasons/monsoons when the rain water that doesn’t drain is usually contaminated with harmful allergens including Viruses, Bacteria or other allergens. This is highly contagious and can spread from person to person. Bacterial and Viral conjunctivitis are contagious while allergic conjunctivitis is not.
Types of Eye Flu
- Depending on the cause of the infection,EYE Flu is categorized under following categories that includes-
- Viral Conjunctivitis– Here the allergen causing the infection is Virus and is highly contagious and spreads quickly from one eye to other.
- Bacterial Conjunctivitis– Here the allergen is Bacteria usually affects one or both the eyes.
- Allergic Conjunctivitis– Here the allergen is other than virus or bacteria like pollen, pet danders or dust leads to intense itching and redness in both eyes. Individual may also experience eye f,lu symptoms like scratchy throat,itchy nose and sneezing.
- Ophthalmia Neonatorum-This type of infection affects new born babies and can be caused by bacterial infections acquired during Child birth and requires medical care to treat the complications.
- Giant Papillary Conjunctivitis- Inflammatory condition of eyes due to long term use of contact lenses and an artificial eye.
Symptoms of Eye Flu-
Although the symptoms of eye flu varies from person to person, Eye flu or conjunctivitis is caused by inflammation or infection of the conjunctiva or the mucous membrane that covers the eye ball and the inner surface of the eyelids.
Depending on the allergens, the infection may be either viral bacterial or others and can be characterized by symptoms including itching, redness of eyes, swelling/inflammation, mucous discharge, watery discharge and pain around the eyes.
Mostly Viral Conjunctivitis can cause complications if it penetrates the cornea of the eye.
Causes of Eye Flu-
As mentioned above, the main causes are viral, bacterial or other allergen infections. Mostly Eye flu or Conjunctivitis is not dangerous and can be treated easily with proper care with number of eye drops and anti bacterial medicines as recommendation by the Doctors/Ophthalmologists but if left untreated, it may lead to severe complications leading to blurred vision or may be to vision loss.
Treatment of EYE Flu–
- Most mild to moderate eye flu infections can resolve on their own without any treatment but it requires medical attention if the infection is severe.
- The treatment of eye flu depends on the cause of the allergen which may be viral bacterial or others precisely.
- Viral Eye flu– Mostly viral conjunctivitis is self limiting and get resolved on its own but if the individual is infected by Viruses like Herpes simplex,varicella-zoster or Sexually transmitted infections ,then medical care is necessary.If this is not taken care of,it may lead to vision loss.
- Treatment may include Antiviral Drugs and Warm compress to soothe the discomfort.
- Bacterial Eye flu– Antibiotics including tablets,capsules,Eye drops ,Ointments are used to treat Bacterial infections. It is recommended to follow the full course of the antibiotics even after the recovery. Eye drops and ointments of antibiotics like Ciprofloxacin/norfloxacin/ofloxacin/tobramycin/moxifloxacin/gentamycin etc are prescribed depending on the requirements.
- Some antihistaminic drugs like cetrizine, levocetrizine etc are also prescribed to treat the watery discharge.
- Using Steroids like Dexamethasone Lotoprednol etc to treat conjunctivitis (to ease the pain and inflammation) requires medical expertise because steroid overuse/overdose may lead to corneal perforation resulting in blurred vision or permanent vision loss.
- Allergic Eyeflu– Avoiding exposure to allergens is the best way to protect yourself from the infection but if the infection occurs then the individual may need anti histaminic eye drops like Loratidine/Diphenhydramine to stop allergic reactions and anti inflammatory drugs like steroids to remove inflammation/swelling.
- Cold Compresses on closed eyes to get soothing relief from inflammation.
- Eye Flu caused by Irritants– the best way to treat eye flu caused by irritants or chemicals is rinsing the eyes with plenty of water for five odd minutes and should seek medical attention if exposed to any harmful chemicals.
Home Remedies to prevent Eye Flu-
- Eye flu may be highly contagious. Contact with infectious tears, eye discharge or respiratory discharges can contaminate your hands. Most Virus that cause Eye flu spread through eye contact by contaminated hands or objects. Poor hygiene practices during Eye flu can spread infection to the others especially to kids in schools playgrounds or other places.
- Ensure regular and proper hand wash or sanitize it before or after touching any objects like Doors, Windows etc.
- Avoid touching or rubbing your eyes if itching occurs. Use a soft and clean cloth to wipe out the watery discharge.
- Maintain eye hygiene by protecting your eyes from Dirt, dust or allergen exposure. Rinse your eyes thoroughly with water and use clean cloth or cotton balls to remove foreign particles.
- Choose protective eyewear like sunglasses to avoid rainwater contamination and protect your eyes from pollens,Dusts,Dirt or other allergens. Ensure cleaning of your sunglasses and contact lenses timely.
- Do not self medicate if the infection lasts long.
- Do not share your personal belongings to others.
- Apply warm or Cold compresses to ease the inflammation.
- Seek Medical Advice.
Frequently asked Questions-
What is Eye flu?
Eye flu or conjunctivitis (Pink Eye) is a inflammation of the conjunctiva,a thin tissue that covers the eyeball and inside of the eyelid. The Conjuctiva may swell up due to an allergy, irritant or infection and its small red blood vessels make it appear pink or reddish.
How long Does Conjunctivitis Last?
Most eye flu infections get cured by itself but it may also takes 5 to 15 days depending on the intensity of viral/bacterial infection and how promptly the medical treatment starts.
Is it true that one becomes immune after had eye flu infection?
No,having EYEFLU once does not makes you immune against it in the future. The allergens causing the infection can strike anytime. It is better to ensure good hygiene practices to avoid any unwanted exposure to allergens in allergic environments.
Will eye flu lead to permanent vision loss?
Mild to moderate viral or bacterial infections can get cured by itself but if a individual is get infected by likes of Herpes Virus,adenovirus or bacteria like Staphylococcus, Streptococcus etc,proper medical attention is required and had it been ignored, it may lead to blurred vision or some times to permanent vision loss.
Note- If you get infected with Conjunctivits,Don’t start the treatment on your own without knowing the cause except maintaining the proper hygiene practices and home remedies and visit your Doctor if the infection lasts for more than one to two weeks.
Hope this article clears maximum doubts related to Conjunctivitis/Eye flu for the time.