Mr Okt woke up one fateful morning with red, swollen eyes and associated sharp sensation in same. He could vividly remember that in the early part of the previous day, he shook hands with some colleagues ; two of them having the same symptoms he’s currently experiencing. He could also recollect that not long after the handshake he rubbed his eyes with same hands. Could he have picked ‘’something’’ from the handshake and transmitted it to his own eyes?
What it is
‘’Apollo’’aka Conjunctivitis aka ink Eye aka Pinkeye is the most common eye disease. It is inflammation (swelling) of the outermost layer of the white part of the eye and the inner surface of the eyelid. It makes the eye appear pink or reddish. For many victims the disease runs its full course even if you apply medication. ‘’If any member of the family picks it, it literally afflicts other family members. For school pupils it is a nightmare. If your child’s classmate gets it, oh, it is a sure bet your child will get it. the experience can be traumatic. If it happens in the period of examinations, that child is in a dilemma. In fact some school authorities stop a child afflicted with Apollo from coming to school until healing is complete for fear of spreading the disease’’. Like the beautiful game (Football), Apollo unites tribes, nations, religions, age groups and sexual orientations. It spares nobody!
Though, the circumstances under which it became labeled ‘’Apollo’’ in Nigeria is not too clear but ‘’Legend has it that the disease became more severe in Nigeria at end of year after the United States sent man to the moon in the Apollo spacecraft in 1969. And since then, come December every year, many Nigerians suffer from the eye affliction during the Xmas/New Year period when the cold, dry harmattan wind blows at full throttle’’.
The most common infectious causes are viral followed by bacterial. The viral infection may occur along with other symptoms of a common cold. Viral and bacterial cases are easily spread between people. Allergies to pollen or animal hair is also a common cause.
This type of pinkeye often results from the viruses that cause a common cold. Just as a cold must run its course, so must this form of pinkeye, which usually lasts from four to seven days. Adenoviruses or Enteroviruses are the most common cause of viral conjunctivitis , the condition is highly contagious, usually for as long as the eyes are red. Transmission may occur through accidental inoculation of viral particles from the patient’s hands or by contact with infected upper respiratory droplets, fomites (objects or materials which are likely to carry infection) or contaminated swimming pools. The infection usually resolves spontaneously within 2-4 weeks.
The most common causes of acute bacterial conjunctivitis are Staphylococcus aureus, Streptococcus pneumoniae, and Haemophilus influenzae.
Conjunctivitis may also be caused by allergens such as pollen, perfumes, cosmetics, smoke, dust mites and eye drops.
Chemical eye injury is due to either an acidic or alkali substance getting in the eye. Alkalis are typically worse than acidic burns. Mild burns will produce conjunctivitis, while more severe burns may cause the cornea to turn white.
What you may notice
It makes the eye appear pink or reddish. There may also be pain, burning, scratchiness, or itchiness. A person afflicted with Apollo can hardly look at sunlight, it can be very painful. The affected eye may have increased tears or be “stuck shut” in the morning and become really painful when exposed to sunlight (photophobia). Swelling of the white part of the eye may also occur. Itching of the eye is more common in cases due to allergies. Conjunctivitis can affect one or both eyes.
To reduce the pain, the Apollo victim wears dark eye glasses.
Viral conjunctivitis usually resolves on its own and does not require any specific treatment.
For the allergic type, cool water poured over the face with the head inclined downward sometimes relieve discomfort in mild cases. In more severe cases, drugs are prescribed.
Bacterial conjunctivitis may resolve without treatment, drugs are prescribed only if no improvement is observed after about 3 days. In those who wear contact lenses, are immunocompromised, have disease which is thought to be due to chlamydia or gonorrhea, have a fair bit of pain, or who have lots of discharge, antibiotics are recommended.
Conjunctivitis due to chemicals is treated via irrigation with saline solution (little amount of salt mixed with moderate volume of water). Chemical injuries (particularly alkali burns) are medical emergencies, as they can lead to severe scarring and intraocular damage. People with chemically induced conjunctivitis should not touch their eyes, regardless of whether or not their hands are clean, as they run the risk of spreading the condition to another eye.
• Use a clean towel or tissue each time you wipe your face and eyes.
• Wash your hands very often. Always wash them before and after you eat, when you go to the bathroom, or after you sneeze or cough.
• Try not to touch your eyes. If you do, wash your hands right away.
• Bacteria can live in makeup. This can cause pink eye and even a dangerous infection of the cornea.
Do not use eye makeup while your eyes are infected. Replace your makeup if you have an eye infection. And never share eye makeup with others.
• Make sure to clean your contact lenses exactly as your ophthalmologist recommends.