Cases of conjunctivitis, commonly known as pink-eye allergy, are reported at city hospitals mostly from April through August, say doctors.
They say eyes swell and turn pink and wet due to the allergy, causing severe irritation. It is a seasonal allergy and is not contagious. Besides dust and pollen particles, conjunctivitis is caused by smoke, smell of perfumes, cosmetics and skin medicines and contact with animal skin and their saliva.
But the list is not exhaustive, says Dr Asmah Mehmood. “Causes of the allergy can be vastly different for different people,” she says.
She says people affected by it need to discuss their routines in detail with their consultants so that they can identify the cause of their allergy. She says personal hygiene is the best prevention against conjunctivitis. “Those allergic to pollen and dust need to spend as much time indoors as possible,” she says, “If they have to go out, they should put on shades.”
Doctors warn against self medication, saying it mostly heightens the allergy instead of curing it.
King Edward Medical University Assistant Professor Sohail Sarwar says on average more than 300 people affected by the allergy visit Mayo Hospital in the peak months. He says one of the main causes of the allergy is dust particles. “The numbers affected by the allergy can be reduced if no roads and pavements in the city are left undeveloped,” he says. General Hospital’s Associate Professor Dr Zahid Kamal Siddiqi says steroids and home-made remedies sometimes provide immediate relief but cause more damage in the long run. He says most patients he come across had damaged their eyes by putting kerosene oil, milk, honey and anesthetic eye-drops in them. “These may cause cancer and permanent loss of eye sight in the worst case and worsen glaucoma and cataract diseases,” he says.
Dr Hassaan Pervez, who is currently a house officer at Mayo Hospital, says as it is with most diseases, a ban on quackery may be the first step in dealing with conjunctivitis. “People must be told that they need to consult registered doctors. Almost all relevant medicines are available free-of-cost at public hospitals in the city,” he says.A patient at General hospital said he had started using a steroid given by a quack whenever he felt irritation in his eyes after he got relief from the allergy by using it once. This time, he says, his condition was so bad and persistent that he had to get admitted at the hospital.
Mohsin Pervez, suffering from conjunctivitis, said earlier he used to put rose water in his eyes thinking it would relieve the irritation but had stopped the practice on advice of a doctor.
Published in The Express Tribune, May 22nd, 2011.