Eye Flu Spike: Home Care & Essential Tips To Stay Safe


Monsoon also heralds the onset of rainy season diseases such as flu, dengue and conjunctivitis. The rainwater, especially that doesn’t drain, is usually contaminated with harmful allergens, viruses, and bacteria, serving as a breeding ground for these infections, including conjunctivitis. Alarming reports reveal that this year, conjunctivitis or pink eye, commonly known as eye flu, has surged 3-4 times in monsoon-hit regions of India, including the bustling cities of Mumbai, Pune, and Delhi[1].

What is Eye Flu?
Eye Flu or conjunctivitis is caused by inflammation or infection of the conjunctiva or the mucous membrane that covers your eyeball and the inner surface of your eyelids. Depending on the cause, bacterial, viral or an allergen, it can be characterized by swelling, itching, irritation, burning, mucusy discharge, and pain around the eyes. Mostly viral and self-resolving, conjunctivitis can cause complications if it penetrates the cornea. While bacterial and viral conjunctivitis can be passed on from person to person, allergic conjunctivitis is not contagious.

Tips to Prevent Eye Flu
Eye flu could be highly contagious. Contact with infectious tears, eye discharge, or respiratory discharges can contaminate your hands. Most viruses that cause conjunctivitis spread through eye contact by contaminated hands or objects. Viral conjunctivitis can also spread by large respiratory tract droplets.
For the same reason, due to lack of hygiene and close contact with infected school children, kids are more susceptible to contracting pink eyes from bacteria or viruses.

Follow these simple tips to safeguard yourself and your children from eye infections while preventing infection transmission to others.

1. Frequent Hand Washing: Wash your hands frequently with soap and warm water for at least 20 seconds. Remember hand washing before and after caring for your infected eye, be it cleaning or applying eye drops or ointment. No soap and water around? No worries! Reach for an alcohol-based hand sanitizer with at least 60% alcohol to keep your hands clean![2]

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2. Avoid Touching Your Eyes: It is quite likely to have an itch or an urge to rub your eyes when you have an eye infection. Try not to rub your eyes; instead, have a soft clean cloth handy to clean the liquid in the eyes. Make sure not to reuse the dirty cloth for your eyes or elsewhere.

3. Maintain Eye Hygiene: Clean your eyes after dirt, dust or allergens exposure. Rinse your eyes with clean water and use cotton balls to remove foreign particles. Make sure to discard the used cotton balls. Refrain from using the same eye drop dispenser for infected and noninfected eyes.

4. Choose Protective Eyewear: When stepping out in the monsoon, wear sunglasses to avoid rainwater contamination and protect your eyes from potent dust, dirt or allergens. Steer clear of any infection by cleaning your eyeglasses and contact lenses timely.

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5. Do not Self Medicate: If you suspect you have eye flu, do not ignore it. Sometimes, a second infection can be superimposed on an earlier one, especially by a different germ. Antibiotic eye drops are given for such superadded bacterial infection, though most conjunctivitis are viral and self-limiting. Avoid self-medicating with antibiotics or steroid-containing eye drops without a doctor’s advice.

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6. Refrain From Sharing Personal Items: It is recommended not to share personal items like handkerchiefs, pillows, towels, contact lenses, makeup items, etc., to avoid transmission of infection.

7. Strengthen Your Immune System: A robust immune system can help your body fend off viruses and bacteria, reducing the likelihood of contracting eye flu in the first place. Maintain a well-balanced diet and exercise regularly to shield your body against infections.

8. Postpone School or Work: Avoid attending school or work until the redness in your eyes has subsided.

Home Care Tips for Eye Flu
Dealing with eye flu can be uncomfortable, but with the right home care tips, you can alleviate symptoms and promote a quicker recovery. From practicing good personal hygiene to soothing remedies, these essential home care practices will help you care for your eyes during this challenging time.

1. Practice Good Personal Hygiene: Wash your hands frequently with soap and water. Avoid sharing towels, eye drops, washcloths, or makeup with others.

2. Avoid Eye Touching or Itching: Resist the urge to touch or rub your eyes to prevent further irritation and the potential spread of germs to your loved ones or the other eye.

3. Apply Warm or Cold Compresses: Use a clean, warm compress or ice pack to your closed eyes to reduce swelling and soothe pain or discomfort. As required, you can repeat it 3-4 times daily.

4. Seek medical advice: If symptoms persist or worsen, seek prompt medical attention to address any underlying concerns and prevent potential complications.

Safeguard your eye health this monsoon season. Practice preventive measures and schedule regular eye check-ups. Early detection can prevent them from becoming more serious.

(The article is written by Dr.Subita Alagh, Senior Executive, and reviewed by Dr. Rajeev Sharma, Vice President, Medical Affairs)

1. As reported by: https://www.hindustantimes.com/lifestyle/health/conjunctivitis-spike-in-pune-delhi-causes-of-eye-flu-in-monsoon-prevention-tips-101690198228603.html
2. Centre for Disease Control and Prevention. Conjunctivitis (Pink Eye)
Available online from: https://www.cdc.gov/conjunctivitis/about/prevention.html
3. American Academy of Ophthalmology: Eye Infections: Be Careful Now or Regret It Later

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