EYE INFECTIONS AND COLD AND FLU SEASON
As of Feb. 2, 2019, the flu is widespread in 47 states, and 24 states are experiencing high levels of the disease. In addition, hospitalizations are increasing, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. “Flu activity has continued to increase this week,” said Lynnette Brammer, the lead of CDC’s domestic influenza surveillance team.
It seems like everywhere you turn, someone is sick. For those individuals who received the flu shot, your symptoms may not be quite as severe, and Brammer urges individuals who haven’t gotten the flu shot to get one as long as we’re in flu season.
When we think of the flu, things such as body aches, fever, and stomach viruses come to mind but flu season may also bring an unexpected surprise in the form of conjunctivitis, most commonly referred to as “pink eye.”
There are three types of conjunctivitis: 1) Bacterial 2) Allergic and 3) Viral Conjunctivitis. Symptoms that present with conjunctivitis include:
- Gritty feeling in the eye or both eyes
- Excessive tearing
- Itchy or burning sensation
- Discharge and/or swollen eyelids
- Pink Discoloration
- Sensitivity to light
Conjunctivitis is contagious, so take these steps to avoid “sharing the joy” with others:
- Practice good hygiene and teach your children how to properly wash their hands
- Don’t touch your face with your hands
- Avoid using cosmetics and eye care items and discard those currently used (particularly mascara) when first diagnosed with conjunctivitis to prevent spreading the infection
- Change towels and washcloths daily and avoid sharing with others
- Avoid wearing contact lenses and dispose of those used at the start of the infection
Conjunctivitis treatment varies. Topical steroid drops and/or antibiotics based on which type of conjunctivitis you have will be used to treat conjunctivitis. Viral conjunctivitis, much like the common cold, must run the course and only in severe cases are steroids used.
The best course of action is to schedule an appointment with your optometrist to properly diagnose and treat your infection. At Bissell Eye Care, we also have tests that examine the optic nerve to ensure there’s not an underlying problem that can become more serious.
About the author: John D. Bissell, owner of Bissell Eye Care and Tri-State Low Vision Services, offers comprehensive eye examinations for the entire family, ocular disease detection and treatment, eye glasses, sun glasses, active wear, contact lenses, and low vision examinations for those with significant vision loss. He has undergone specialized training for treatment of low vision by the International Academy of Low Vision Specialists utilizing customized telescopic eyeglasses, prisms and telescopic implants for patients who qualify. The practice accepts most types of vision and health insurance plans.