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Eye Flu - Symptoms, Causes and Treatment

 

The monsoon season is known for giving a much-needed respite from the scorching heat of the summer days. However, it also brings along a number of airborne and waterborne infections that can be transmitted by tiny pathogens. The simple reason behind this is the heavy rains that cause waterlogging in multiple places. This stagnant water serves as an ideal breeding spot not only for mosquitoes but also for other types of insects, leading to several monsoon-related diseases. Cold, fever, flu and eye infections are some of the most common ones that can also pose some health threats.

What is Eye Flu?

An eye infection, or eye flu, is a condition that causes redness, irritation, and itchiness in the eyes. This infection is generally caused by some kind of virus, bacteria, or allergen and is highly contagious. Often referred to as conjunctivitis, it affects the conjunctiva, the thin and transparent layer covering the white part of the eye. When infected, the conjunctiva turns pink or red with excessive tearing. Although eye flu doesn’t lead to any other serious health issues, it can cause a lot of discomfort with temporary vision-related issues.

Here is a detailed explanation of the different causes, major symptoms, and treatment of the eye flu:

Eye Flu Symptoms

The symptoms of the eye flu can vary from one person to another depending on their underlying causes and the severity of the infection. However, some of the common ones include:

  • Eyes turning pink or red
  • Excessive itchiness and irritation
  • Watery discharge from the eyes
  • Thick yellow/green discharge
  • Excessive eye gunk
  • Blurred vision
  • Gritty or sandy sensations
  • Increased sensitivity to light
  • Swollen or puffy eyelids

Eye Flu Causes

Conjunctivitis, or eye flu, is one of the most common types of infection and affects a large number of people every year during the monsoon. There are several different causes of eye flu, and this infection can be divided into multiple categories depending on that cause.

Here are some common types of eye flu with their respective reasons:

Viral Conjunctivitis

As the name implies, this type of conjunctivitis can be caused by certain viruses. Out of all the different types of eye infections, this one is the most contagious. It not only affects the eyes but can also lead to some respiratory problems at times.

Bacterial Conjunctivitis

Bacterial conjunctivitis is caused by specific types of bacteria, such as Staphylococcus aureus or Streptococcus pneumoniae. Like viral conjunctivitis, this eye infection is also highly contagious and causes discomfort. During the monsoon season, instances of bacterial conjunctivitis are relatively higher, as increased humidity levels are among the major triggers.

Allergic Conjunctivitis

Allergic conjunctivitis is caused by exposure to certain allergens. These elements can be anything, such as pollen, dust mites, mould, etc. This type of eye flu affects both eyes and can cause irritation followed by watery eyes.

Giant Papillary Conjunctivitis

This type of eye flu is caused by prolonged use of contact lenses. Since contact lenses come into direct contact with the conjunctiva, those with accumulated dirt can cause an eye infection. In this type of conjunctivitis, small bumps start appearing on the inner surface of the eyelids.

Chemical Conjunctivitis

As the name suggests, chemical conjunctivitis is caused when an individual is exposed to certain chemicals. This is the most common type of eye flu that occurs in the monsoon season. Generally, it spreads by using a shared swimming pool containing chemically treated water. Here, chlorine and other harsh chemicals used to keep the water clean can cause irritation and redness in the eyes.

Eye-Flu Treatment

The treatment of eye flu can also vary depending on the type of infection and its root cause. To alleviate the discomfort caused by the eye flu, drops are the most effective treatment. They can give instant relief from pain and itchiness and stop the watery discharge. However, the doctor will suggest different types of eye drops for different infections. For example, lubricating eye drops help with viral conjunctivitis, whereas antibiotic eye drops are suitable for bacterial eye infections. Similarly, antihistamine eye drops or oral antihistamines are suggested for people who have allergic eye flu.

Apart from this, it is very important to maintain good hygiene for the timely healing of the infection. One can also try home remedies like warm compresses, cold compresses, clean water wash, etc. to ease the discomfort and relieve the pain.

How to Prevent the Eye Flu

Just like other similar kinds of infections, there are several effective medicines for eye flu as well, but prevention is always the best thing. Here are a few preventive healthcare tips for the eye flu:

  • Touching eyes with contaminated hands can increase an individual’s chances of contracting the eye flu. So, it is important to wash hands thoroughly with anti-bacterial soap and clean water, not just in the monsoon but also on regular days. This is undoubtedly the most effective way to prevent the bacteria/virus responsible for conjunctivitis from spreading.
  • Avoid touching or rubbing the eyes frequently. This can not only introduce different kinds of germs but also cause unnecessary irritation in the eyes, leading to other problems.
  • In case of the unavailability of soap and clean water, an alcohol-based hand sanitizer can also be used. Make sure that the sanitizer contains at least 60% alcohol. Other than this, the best way to use hand sanitizer is to apply a generous amount to both palms and rub properly.
  • Regular disinfection of common surfaces with a concentrated disinfectant can go a long way towards germ elimination. These frequently-touched surfaces include electronic switches, door knobs and handles, toilet seats, taps, etc.
  • Never share toiletries and other personal items, including towels, combs, face napkins, etc., as they can quickly spread infections.
  • Regularly clean the objects that come into direct contact with the face or eyes, such as makeup brushes, spectacles, sunglasses, etc. Dirt accumulation on any of these things can increase the chances of spreading eye infections.
  • Since conjunctivitis is highly contagious, it is best to avoid direct contact with an infected individual. By maintaining a safe distance, the risk of transmission can be significantly reduced.
  • Certain types of allergens, like pollen, pet dander, dust mites, etc., can also cause conjunctivitis. To avoid that, it is best to minimise the overall exposure to any such elements.
  • For individuals using contact lenses, regular cleaning and disinfection of the lenses are of utmost importance. They are very prone to contamination from external elements, increasing one’s risk of catching an eye infection.
  • During the monsoon season, using a shared swimming pool can be a bad idea. During this time, the water gets contaminated easily, leading to a higher risk of conjunctivitis or any other type of infection.
  • There are certain types of conjunctivitis that can be caused by infectious agents such as adenoviruses. Getting an appropriate vaccination beforehand is the best way to get complete protection against these types of eye infections.

Although conjunctivitis is a bothersome condition, with the right preventive measures, the chances of contracting the infection can be minimised. If an individual experiences any of the symptoms that indicate eye flu, it is best to consult a professional healthcare provider. In most cases, at-home treatments can work for the eye flu. However, before trying a home remedy for eye flu, seek advice from a doctor who can suggest appropriate medication if required. 

 

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