Conjunctivitis refers to inflammation of the conjunctiva, which functions to create a mucus layer in tears and protect the eyes from foreign substances such as microorganisms or bacteria. Epidemic conjunctivitis is a type of conjunctivitis and refers to an inflammatory disease of the conjunctiva caused by bacteria and viruses. It is one of the diseases with a high incidence in the summer, when bacteria and bacteria thrive in a high-temperature and high-humidity environment. In addition, symptoms usually last for 3 to 4 weeks and are known to be contagious up to 2 weeks after the disease occurs. Epidemic conjunctivitis can be divided into several types, such as epidemic keratoconjunctivitis, acute hemorrhagic conjunctivitis, and pharyngeal conjunctivitis, depending on the type of virus that causes it. Among them, epidemic conjunctivitis caused by adenovirus is the most common type. Such epidemic conjunctivitis is mainly caused by direct physical contact or infection using a medium, and it occurs a lot after swimming in the sea, valley, or swimming pool. In addition, epidemic conjunctivitis is highly contagious, so it is often infected indoors where many people gather, and since infection can occur through subways, elevators, and escalator handles, careful management and attention are required. Now, let’s learn about the various symptoms that appear when the symptoms of epidemic conjunctivitis appear, as well as various information about prevention and treatment.
Main symptoms of epidemic conjunctivitis
Symptoms of epidemic conjunctivitis usually appear after an incubation period of about a week after the virus penetrates the eye. At the same time as the eyes are severely reddened, mucus and tears increase like mucus, and you feel a foreign body feeling as if something is in your eyes. You may also experience other symptoms such as itchy eyes and glare. In severe cases, it may cause severe pain and swelling of the eyelids, and may be accompanied by systemic symptoms such as fever, lethargy, and muscle pain. These epidemic conjunctivitis symptoms only appear in one eye, but over time, symptoms may appear in the other eye as well. Epidemic conjunctivitis often heals spontaneously over time. However, if you self-medicate without a doctor’s prescription or if you leave it until the symptoms get worse, it can lead to vision loss due to damage to the conjunctiva. Also, after corneal epithelial defect occurs, if a secondary infection occurs by bacteria that invaded through the corneal wound, visual acuity may be reduced as a sequelae. Therefore, if the various related symptoms mentioned above appear in a persistent form, you should visit an ophthalmologist and receive an accurate diagnosis and treatment from a specialist. In particular, if related symptoms appear after swimming or outdoor activities in the summer, it is recommended to receive an appropriate diagnosis.
Treatment and prevention of epidemic conjunctivitis
1. Appropriate Diagnosis and Treatment
In order to diagnose epidemic conjunctivitis, a slit lamp test is performed to check the degree of hyperemia, papillary enlargement or follicles, and conjunctival edema. After that, depending on the diagnosis result, for the first 2 weeks, ice packs are applied to relieve swelling or pain, and when going out, sunglasses are worn to prevent glare. And to prevent secondary bacterial infection of virus-damaged cells, antibiotic eye drops can be applied, and steroid eye drops can be used if superficial keratitis is present. In most cases, this epidemic conjunctivitis heals without any special sequelae, but in severe cases, the cornea may peel off, leading to severe pain and the inability to open the eyes. In this case, treatment is carried out using therapeutic contact lenses and artificial tears.
2. Beware of touching or rubbing your eyes
In order to prevent epidemic conjunctivitis, you must be careful about consciously touching or rubbing your eyes. It is a good idea to wash your hands frequently while going out in crowded places. Also, when returning home after going out, you should wash your hands with soap or detergent under running water, and it is recommended to take a shower after going out for a long time.
3. Be careful when playing in the water or doing outdoor activities
As the incidence of epidemic conjunctivitis increases in the summer when you play in water at a banana continuum, swimming pool, or water park, it is good to be careful when visiting the place. It is recommended to wear goggles when playing in the water, and avoid swimming while wearing contact lenses. And since the virus is highly contagious for about 2 weeks after the onset of symptoms of epidemic conjunctivitis, avoid going to places where people gather, and wash your hands frequently to minimize transmission factors. In addition, the patient’s family must use separate towels, soap, and bedding, and avoid direct physical contact with the patient.