July 17, 2024

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Eye Health In Monsoon: Can You Get Flu By Looking Into Someone’s Eyes?

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Eye Health In Monsoon: Can You Get Flu By Looking Into Someone's Eyes?
The main presentation of conjunctivitis is red eyes, but there are numerous other causes of red eyes. (Photo: Freepik)

According to a doctor, physical contact with infected people is the main mode of transmission. Like, when someone shares the same working space, or touches their eyes after touching common surfaces.

Seasonal allergies are pretty common, affecting people who are especially vulnerable. As the monsoon season approaches, it is important to take care of eye health, because a drop in temperature and rise in humidity — coupled with the urge to wipe and rub the eyes with hands — can cause infections, one of which is the eye flu or ‘viral conjunctivitis’.

What Is Conjunctivitis?

Dr Sakshi Lalwani, MBBS, MS, DNB (ophthal), FLVP paediatrics and neuro-ophthalmology, consultant ophthalmologist at Ceeds — a unit of Dr Agarwals Eye Hospital, Bandra explains that the conjunctiva is a thin, translucent membrane that lines the ‘anterior part’ of the white portion of the eyes and some part of the eyelids. When it gets inflamed, it causes ‘conjunctivitis’. “Viral conjunctivitis is usually the most common cause of infectious conjunctivitis, followed by bacteria. There is also another form called allergic conjunctivitis, which is more common during summer/spring season,” Dr Lalwani states.

What Does Conjunctivitis Look Like?

According to the doctor, the main presentation of conjunctivitis is red eyes, but there are numerous other causes of red eyes. “Not all red eyes are conjunctivitis. Symptoms, depending upon the cause of conjunctivitis, may vary. It could be a sudden onset of red or pink eye with some or a lot of pain, photophobia, blurring of vision associated with purulent or mucopurulent, or watery discharge. There can be a lot of itching in allergic conjunctivitis,” she explains.

But, Can The Transmission Happen By Looking Into Someone’s Eyes?

The mode of transmission is never by looking into one’s eyes, says the doctor. “Eye contact is never the mode of transmission of conjunctivitis; it is only a way or a form of non-verbal communication to express emotion,” she says, adding that allergic conjunctivitis is usually seen in people with seasonal allergies. It gets triggered when one comes in contact with an allergen, or during a change of environment. “A foreign body can trigger a more severe form of allergy, known as ‘giant papillary conjunctivitis’,” says Dr Lalwani.

According to the doctor, an infectious form of conjunctivitis is caused mainly by organisms of your own skin and respiratory system, especially a form of bacteria.

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What Is The Main Mode Of Transmission?

Physical contact with infected people is the main mode of transmission, the expert warns. “Like, when you share the same working space, or touch your eyes after touching common surfaces shared by you and the infected person. Keeping your hands unclean, sharing towels, pillow covers, bed lines, handkerchief, makeup brushes, keeping your contact lens dirty can cause cross contamination. Bad hygienic practice of leaving a used tissue/cloth on a table or your bed that has been used to clean your infected eyes can cause infection,” says the doctor.

She concludes by saying that taking care of respiratory illnesses, overall health, and skin infections, if present, along with overall hygienic practices with proper treatment by an ophthalmologist can help one to tackle this ocular condition, without sight-threatening consequences.


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