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Cold Snap Sees Rise in Incidence of Eye Infections

The change of season has caused a surge in the number of cases of the viral conjunctivitis, fever and asthma attacks.

But doctors told Emirates Business that the upsurge was not linked to the H1N1 virus outbreak.

“Viral conjunctivitis is seen during sudden changes in the weather and in the UAE diseases like the common cold with running nose and sore eyes and asthma cases go up in winter,” said Dr VS Viswanathan, President of Kerala Medical Graduates Association, which represents 700 practising doctors in the UAE.

“This is very common and normally a virus attack subsides without the use of antibiotics. Doctors prescribe antibiotics only if there are secondary infections.”

He said seasonal changes increased the incidence of allergies, the common cold and asthma. “There are many asthma patients in the UAE. During winter sandstorms trigger asthma attacks, the silicon in sand triggers the attacks,” he added.

Dr Ajay Kumar M, a specialist ophthalmologist at Al Noor Polyclinic in Rashidya, said: “A change in the temperature causes viral conjunctivitis. When the atmospheric temperature changes from one level to another viral diseases become common.

“We are seeing many patients with viral conjunctivitis attacks. Patients need to seek , anti-viral and antibiotic medication is effective. If the patient rests and takes regular medication the eye disease is cured quickly. In the case of patients who use computers or drive, more time is required to cure the infection because they cannot take the medicine regularly. Eyestrain caused by computer use or driving can cause a swelling of the eye and the medicine will not be effective.”

“It is highly contagious and spreads through direct contact with the droplets and secretions from an infected eye.”

He said other common seasonal diseases included a form of catarrh caused by pollen that strikes in the spring, adding: “It is a chronic eye inflammation that becomes aggravated during the spring and summer.”

Conjunctivitis is one of the most common and treatable eye infections in children and adults. Often called “pink eye,” it is an inflammation of the conjunctiva, the tissue that lines the inside of the eyelid. This tissue helps keep the eyelid and eyeball moist.

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