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Friday, March 29, 2013

Conjunctivitis strain damaging cornea & vision

Mumbai: It is common for people to suffer from sore eyes during the monsoon, the condition lingering for three to five days. But several Mumbaikars have been laid low by a strain of conjunctivitis which refuses to abate for months and is affecting vision. 

    Ophthalmologists say many are being affected by an uncommon virus—adenovirus-8. It, say doctors, not only mutates frequently, but is potent enough to cause chronic damage to the cornea. 
    Take the instance of Advait Shah (name changed). The 30-year-old was afflicted by conjunctivitis in January. He thought he would be fine in a few days, but when his eyes remained swollen even after a week, he went to a doctor. "The doctor prescribed a steroid, after which the situation worsened," said Shah, a professor with a college. By the second week, Shah not only started experiencing severe pain in the eyes, but also a loss in vision. 
Virulent conjunctivitis may take a year to heal 
    Vile Parle resident Advait Shah (name changed) became alarmed when he began experiencing a loss of vision after suffering conjunctivitis for over two weeks in January. One visit to an ophthalmologist had not helped. He rushed to another and was diagnosed to be suffering from nummular keratitis, a condition in which there was tearing and photophobia, apart from blurred vision. 
    "Even with my shades on, I had trouble teaching. My students lagged behind in their syllabus because of my eye problems. The college had to ultimately arrange for a substitute teacher," said Shah, a professor. Shah has not yet completely recovered. He still has an opaque spot in his eye. 
    Dr Kavita Rao, cornea and refractive surgeon at Aditya Jyot Hospital, said, "There are multiple viruses that otherwise affect the eye. The adenovirus-8 is an uncommon strain. Though the conjunctivitis caused by this virus may resolve in two to three weeks, the antigen may remain in the cornea and cause further problems." 
    Adenovirus-8 eye infections, currently affecting many Mumbaikars, crop up after every few years, say doctors. Dr Phiroze Patel, ophthalmologist at Jaslok Hospital, said vision once blurred by the virus, takes a long time to return to normal. "The virus causes small, fine corneal spots and tear. A few patients take even six months to a year to recover," he said, adding adenovirus conjunctivitis is seen after every two years or so. "It affects in clusters," he added. 
    Melina Gomes, for instance, had a tough time containing the disease. First her husband suffered from conjunctivitis in February, followed by her two-yearold son. "A week after my third son, I contracted the conjunctivitis, followed by my other two sons aged 10 and four. Each one of us suffered for more than two weeks each. But we got a scare when my second son started bleeding from 
the eye after suffering for a week. We rushed him to the doctor, who said that there was actually no treatment, except to wait for the virus to run its course," said Melina, who still has a blurry vision and itchy eyes sometimes. 
    Dr Sanjay Dhawan, from the All India Ophthalmological Society, said the virus strains keep mutating, which makes it even more difficult for the body to fight it out. 
    "Normally 50 strains of virus 
cause conjunctivitis, but recently, a particular type, adenovirus-8 has been circulating. The mutation makes the virus even more dangerous," he said, adding that a sharp pain in the eyes and sensitivity to light in those suffering from eye flu should not be ignored. 
    "Patients should avoid self medication and must consult a specialist immediately if the symptoms linger for over a week," he said.



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