Summer is a time of rain and also very hot; and, for many people, this means taking endless swims in the pool or sea, as well as enjoying a break in the good weather and going for a nice walk. It is at these times, however, that extra care with your eyes becomes necessary: the season is marked by an increase in cases of conjunctivitis.
Conjunctivitis is inflammation of the conjunctiva, a thin, transparent membrane that covers the front of the eyeball – the white of the eye – and the inside of the eyelids. The disease can affect one or both eyes and, although it usually does not leave any consequences, it must be treated with medical help.
The increase in cases in the summer is no surprise, explains doctor Larissa Friggi, district technical reference (RTD) in ophthalmology. “There is an increase in cases in the summer due to the greater capacity for viruses and bacteria to proliferate due to heat and humidity”, she points out. “Another aggravating factor is that, this season, there is a greater crowd of people in clubs, swimming pools, beaches and end-of-year parties.”
Contamination occurs through direct contact with an infected person, which raises the importance of taking some precautions when dealing with someone who shows symptoms of the disease. “Contamination can occur, for example, when an infected person touches their eye and then greets another person, or when [pessoas] they share the same pillow and towel”, details the ophthalmologist.
Most common symptoms
Typical symptoms depend on the type of disease. Conjunctivitis can be divided into three: viral, bacterial and allergic.
The most common is viral, normally caused by the adenovirus. Symptoms include: a feeling of sand in the eyes, tearing with a more liquid and clear secretion, chemosis (swelling in the conjunctiva), eyelid edema and mild to moderate initial itching. In some cases, lymph nodes (tongues) also occur in the region around the ear.
More common in children, bacterial conjunctivitis presents as symptoms yellowish discharge, very red eyes; normally, there is no itching. Allergies present with intense itching, with clear, mucus-like secretion, and mild ocular hyperemia (increase in blood circulation).
How to prevent yourself
As the main form of contamination is through contact with someone who is sick, the ophthalmologist reinforces that the fundamental factor for prevention is education and hygiene and advises: “Avoid touching your eyes with dirty hands, not scratching your eyes, avoiding sharing makeup with the infected person, change the pillowcase – in other words, general hygiene care is the best form of prevention”.
Although conjunctivitis lasts an average of five to 15 days, the specialist emphasizes that the patient should not self-medicate. The ideal is to seek medical help, as treatment depends on the type of disease.
In cases of suspicion, the patient can go to the basic health unit (UBS) reference closest to where you live. In cases of emergency, the health network provides three hospitals with ophthalmological emergency rooms: the regional ones in the Asa Norte Region (Hran) and Taguatinga (HRT) and the one in Base do Distrito Federal (HBDF).
→ Avoid touching your eyes with dirty hands – wash your hands frequently
→ Don’t scratch your eyes
→ Avoid sharing makeup and other beauty products
→ Change your pillowcase
→ Avoid sharing a face towel
→ Don’t self-medicate
*With information from the Department of Health