- By: Dr. Harshavardhan Ghorpade
Monsoon is equivalent to cool weather, hot pakodas, long drives and enchanting greenery. However, the season is also closely associated to a host of water, vector and foodborne diseases including Flu, Diarrhea, Malaria, Leptospirosis & Jaundice. Patients with various illnesses related to contaminated water & food, vectors (flies & mosquitoes) are also commonly seen. Steep spike is also seen in eye infections during this season! High humidity levels are one of the leading causes of several eye infections - these are classified as viral, bacterial, protozoal, and fungal; some are even related to worms!
The most common infection of the eyes is Conjunctivitis; it is an infection which is associated with red eyes, discharge and spreads from person to person through contact/ touch. Also note that conjunctivitis can be an early or late manifestation of CoVid -19 infection and care needs to be taken to follow up such patients for development of other symptoms.
Infections of the Cornea (the black part of the eye) called Keratitis is also commonly noted during monsoon. It is caused by injury to the eyes or due to unhygienic contact lens routines. It is a devastating infection and can lead to blindness if left unattended.
Another commonly seen eye infection is Trachoma; Bacterium Chlamydia Trachomatis causes this infection. According to WHO, it is responsible for the blindness or visual impairment of about 1.9 million people across the globe; and the blindness from Trachoma is irreversible! Trachoma is spread through direct personal contact, by sharing towels and linens, and flies that have come in contact with the eyes or nose of an infected person. Filaria spread by infected mosquitoes may cause retinal inflammation leading to swelling and low vision. Other types of infection include Toxoplasmosis spreads primarily from household pets when kept in close proximity to humans. Other sources of contamination can include, soil, undercooked meat, and unwashed vegetables; it can cause permanent blindness. Finally, contaminated swimming pools and puddles of water that one may venture in to, contain Protozoa like Acanthamoeba which lead to corneal infections - again causing blinding complications.
The above infections during the monsoon season are preventable and require basic care and precautions to avoid long term eye problems...
- The first basic precaution is to wash your hands with antiseptic soap and water frequently, to avoid the spread of viral and bacterial Conjunctivitis to family members
- Separate your belongings from that of others - bedspreads, linens, towels, clothes etc.
- Do not touch your eyes if infected and cover them with a face shield or glasses
- Do not wash your eyes with tap water as it is usually contaminated, especially in the rainy season, use boiled or filtered water; lubricating eye drops are also recommended as prescribed by a doctor
- Do not allow flies to hover around your eyes, and if present get rid of them with flytraps or sprays
- Get rid of mosquitoes with the help of repellants or mosquito nets
- Do not wear contact lenses while swimming, and if used throw them after use and start a new pair
- Maintain good contact lenses hygiene with advice from your doctor
- Wear protective eye gear while trekking or cycling through forests
- Keep your pets clean, especially kittens, and prevent them from going into puddles and ingesting contaminated food
- Avoid self-medication, if there is any discomfort, seek medical aid
- Finally avoid rubbing of eyes when there is a foreign body or irritation in the eyes, instead, consult an eye doctor immediately
- Avoid air-conditioned sections of you have an infection; infections spread faster in such an environment
- Make sure to keep a close watch on your kids as they often find fun in the rains and venture into puddles - ensure that they take a hot bath using antiseptic soap, encourage them to practice hand hygiene at all times
By following and maintain these basic precautions, one may experience a pleasant monsoon full of fun, food and overall good health!