It is caused mainly by a virus, adenovirus and sometime can be superadded with bacteria also. The incubation period is around 4-10 days (that means the virus takes 4-10 days to cause the redness)
Do not panic, if you get the infection because spontaneous resolution usually occurs in 2 weeks.
How it spreads:
The secretions from the patients' eyes contain the organisms and are very contagious. "EYE to HAND to EYE contact" is the commonest mode of transmission. Rarely, when the same virus also causes upper respiratory tract infection, it can spread through droplets when a patient coughs.
How to protect yourself:
It is very difficult to protect yourself from getting the infection, especially if your close contact, neighbour or any family member has contracted the disease. This is because, by the time they manifest the disease, your eyes may have already been exposed to the virus.
To protect yourself from the infection, one has to take care, even before the incubation period itself (which means, at least 10 days before your close contacts has any redness).
You can, however, minimize the risk of getting the infection if you follow these measures strictly:
Ø Wash your hands - wash your hands - wash your hands many times a day as this is the best method of preventing the problem from occurring in your eyes. The reason is that the fluid is the one that causes the transmission of the disease and frequent washing of the eye will cause the person to have a simple method of preventing the spread.
Ø Avoid touching your eyes. If at all, after washing your hands.
Ø Things that are used by the general public like door latches, water taps, papers and files in offices; pens, erasers, books and notebooks in schools; handle bars in public transports of buses, autos, taxis, etc are the common culprits that can contaminate your hands with the virus.
Ø At home, do not share towels, pillows, handkerchiefs and if anyone in the family has contracted the disease, it would be better to isolate him till he recovers.
Ø do not trust anything you touch. It might be contaminated. This will remind you to wash your hands.
Ø Prophylactic antibiotic eye-drops will not prevent you from getting the viral infection. You could contract the disease if you use the same eye-drop bottle as the patient, because the nozzle tip, cap and body of the bottle may be contaminated with the virus. Please do not share the same eye-drop bottle.
Ø Wearing goggles will not prevent you from getting the infection because even if you wear goggles, the virus can spread because of the use of your hands to touch your eyes.
Visit your eye doctor within 7-10 days because Keratitis (involvement of the cornea) might be seen in a few of the patients. If keratitis is present, your doctor will treat you accordingly.
If each of us follows the above measures, there will not be an epidemic of red eye. This can only be achieved with the effort of every individual and not by doctors and nurses alone. In case these are not done, then the eye problem will be transmitted from one person to another that will cause a lot of suffering as it can lead to pain and inflammation.
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