LAHORE: The outbreak of pinkeye (conjunctivitis) continues to afflict Punjab, with state-run hospitals across the province reporting 500-600 patients, with Lahore topping the list among other districts.
The alarming surge in cases has had a noticeable impact, as evidenced by emerging reports indicating that the infection is affecting people of all age groups.
A large number of school-going children have been complaining of eye infections, primarily because they are not adhering to precautions at school.
There have been reports that school administrations are allowing students to stay home as soon as they contract the virus and are advising parents to take special care of their children.
Medical experts say that pinkeye is spreading rapidly in densely populated cities where people are exposed to unfriendly environments, such as factories, bazaars, markets, and shopping plazas.
They have also highlighted that the eye infection is wreaking havoc in Lahore, accounting for nearly 40 percent of the disease burden, with over 200 patients flooding hospitals daily.
Eye experts have issued warnings about the significant risk of widespread transmission of the infection due to a lack of precautions, known as viral conjunctivitis.
Senior ophthalmologist and former vice chancellor of King Edward Medical University Prof Dr Asad Aslam says that it is premature to assess the true impact of viral conjunctivitis or pinkeye, as much work remains to officially record the exact number of reported cases.
He said that pinkeye is a common and self-limiting condition that affects the lining of the eyelid and eyeball, adding that it is treatable at any stage.
Prof Aslam added that the infection can easily spread through contact with contaminated surfaces, close contact with infected people, and even through conversations. He advised patients to exercise extreme caution.
He recommended that people with pinkeye should wear black glasses, separate their bedding and utensils immediately.
“We saw every year the spike in the pinkeye cases in Punjab but this time the intensity of the outbreak was much more than the previous reported cases,” he said.Regarding high-risk transmission, he explained that the virus spreads when a patient touches their eyeball and then contacts other surfaces or people.
Pinkeye can also result from bacterial infections or allergic reactions, and he stressed that if symptoms do not improve within 12 to 24 hours, people should seek a doctor’s appointment to prevent complications.
Published in Dawn, September 26th, 2023