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Conjunctivitis cases on the rise: what is this infection

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Conjunctivitis cases on the rise: what is this infection

Context- With persistent rain, cases of conjunctivitis, or ‘pink eye’, are on the rise in several parts of the country, including New Delhi, Chandigarh, and Gujarat.

A conjunctivitis patient generally experiences eyes turning red, feeling itchy and painful, and witnessing a watery or thicker discharge. The disease can be caused by viruses, bacteria, or allergens, and in some cases can be highly infectious.

(Credits- psurectt)

What is conjunctivitis?

  • According to the American Optometric Association (AOA), conjunctivitis, “often referred to as “pink eye”, is the swelling or inflammation of the conjunctiva, the thin, transparent layer of tissue that lines the inner surface of the eyelid and covers the white part of the eye.”

What causes conjunctivitis?

  • Conjunctivitis infections, as stated earlier, are broadly of three types, and causes are different for each.
  • Allergic conjunctivitis can be caused by common allergens like pollen, or due to the long-term presence of a foreign body in the eye, like hard contact lenses.
  • Bacterial or viral conjunctivitis is infectious. According to the AOA, bacterial conjunctivitis is “most often caused by staphylococcal or streptococcal bacteria from your own skin or respiratory system”, while viral conjunctivitis “is most commonly caused by contagious viruses associated with the common cold. It can develop through exposure to the coughing or sneezing of someone with an upper respiratory tract infection.”
  • Chemical conjunctivitis, meanwhile, “can be caused by irritants like air pollution, chlorine in swimming pools, and exposure to noxious chemicals”.
  • In New Delhi this year, most cases are of viral conjunctivitis. Dr JS Titiyal, chief of the Dr Rajendra Prasad Centre for Ophthalmic Sciences, AIIMS, Delhi, said almost 100 cases of conjunctivitis are being reported a day.

What are the symptoms of conjunctivitis?

  • According to the USA’s Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, symptoms of conjunctivitis include “Pink or red color in the white of the eye(s); swelling of the conjunctiva and/or eyelids; increased tear production; feeling like a foreign body is in the eye(s) or an urge to rub the eye(s); itching, irritation, and/or burning; discharge (pus or mucus); crusting of eyelids or lashes, especially in the morning; contact lenses that feel uncomfortable and/or do not stay in place on the eye.”
  • Viral conjunctivitis generally causes a watery discharge, while in the case of a bacterial infection, the discharge is pus-like.
  • Treatment usually involves management of symptoms. Doctors advise against taking medicines without medical guidance.

Way Forward- In order to protect oneself from the infection, proper hygiene is essential, such as ensuring one doesn’t touch the eyes with unclean hands, and doesn’t share articles like towels, contact lenses, or eye makeup products.

Syllabus- GS-3; Science and Tech

Source- Indian Express

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