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Friday, October 12, 2001

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Beware, `Madras eye' is here!

By Our Staff Reporter

BANGALORE, OCT. 11. Are you suffering from irritation in the eyes? Have you been rubbing your eyes quiet often lately? Well, this may not be just another allergy due to the increasing smoke and dust in the City. You could be experiencing a bout of conjunctivitis.

The eye infection, popularly known as ``Madras eye,'' is currently prevalent in Bangalore, with the City recording quite a few cases for the past one week.

The Minto Eye Hospital here has reported around 45 cases of the eye infection in this month itself with as many as 22 cases diagnosed for the last one week. Dr. Vatsala, Director of the Hospital, told The Hindu that there was no cause for panic as there was no indication of it becoming an epidemic. But precautions should be taken to curb the infection from spreading, she said.

Another private practitioner in the City said that he had examined around 15 cases of conjunctivitis in the past one week. ``The eye infection is prevalent in the City now,'' he said.

Conjunctivitis is an eye infection which causes the thin skin covering the eyeball to become inflamed. It can be of two types: Viral (which is also called Madras eye) and bacterial, which is a milder form. The infection is accompanied by redness of the eyes, irritation, burning and itching, and constant watering of the affected eye. ``Though the bacterial form is milder than the viral infection, both the forms are highly contagious. It spreads through the air or through direct contact with discharge from the eye of the affected person which may carry the bacteria or virus. Sometimes, it may be accompanied by fever and cold,'' said Dr. Vatsala.

Dr. Reddy, head of the Department of Ophthalmology, Lady Curzon and Bowring Hospital, said they had received a few sporadic cases of conjunctivitis, but not an unusual number. The viral form is usually seen during the summer and spring, and not at this time of the year. But the bacterial infection can come any time during the year, he said.

Persons affected with conjunctivitis are advised to wear glasses, and use separate soaps, towels, and other articles. They may visit their doctor for antibiotics to treat the infection. Washing the eye periodically with warm water may prevent unaffected persons from the getting the infection.

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