Following its initial outbreak in Sindh and Punjab, a viral eye infection has now extended its reach into Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa (K-P), with reports of its spread in various schools.
In response, school administrations have issued directives to staff and students, urging them to wear sunglasses and seek immediate medical attention should symptoms arise.
Official sources have indicated that the health department has issued advisory guidelines for hospitals and medical superintendents.
Hospitals are now required to display banners with instructions aimed at raising awareness among the general public.
These measures include the involvement of eye specialists, the availability of necessary medications, and adherence to preventive safety measures by hospital staff.
The origins of this eye infection can be traced back to Karachi in Sindh, where it saw a surge in cases during the rainy season in August.
Both public and private hospitals in the city were inundated with cases of conjunctivitis, commonly known as red eye.
One prominent medical facility, Jinnah Hospital, recorded a staggering 50 cases daily in its Outpatient Department (OPD), with 25 of them specifically related to the red eye infection, affecting individuals of all ages.
Dr. Muhammad Moizuddin, a leading Consultant Ophthalmologist, attributes the rapid spread of the infection to direct contact with the ocular discharge of affected individuals.
Symptoms typically include eye redness, moisture, and discomfort, with the infection lasting for about eight to ten days. Dr. Moizuddin advises strict hygiene practices, such as using separate towels and toiletries, as well as prescribed eye drops and clean tissues for eye cleansing. Cold water can provide temporary relief from discomfort.
It is crucial to adhere to cautionary measures and maintain impeccable cleanliness to curb the transmission of this highly contagious eye infection.
Dr. Rabia Chaudhry, Assistant Ophthalmologist at Jinnah Hospital Karachi, outlines the symptoms, which include redness, itching, inflammation of the eyes, and the formation of lumps near the ears. In some cases, the infection can also affect the cornea, potentially impacting an individual’s visual acuity.
While a swift recovery is expected when the infection remains confined to the white part of the eye, cases involving corneal complications require a longer healing period of two to three weeks.
Dr. Chaudhry stresses the importance of precautionary measures, emphasizing that the infection is primarily transmitted through direct exposure to ocular fluids of infected individuals.
Contrary to common misconceptions, the infection is not transmitted through mere eye contact. Additionally, many cases have shown a co-occurrence of red eye with symptoms of cold, flu, and cough.
Published in The Express Tribune, September 25th2023.