The eyes are the most sensitive organ of the human body. Your eyes allow you to see. Many parts of your eye work together to bring objects into focus and send visual information to your brain. It is the overall process of your eyesight. Without eyes, you cannot even imagine the joy of life. Due to its huge importance, taking care of your eyes is most important. Unfortunately, in today’s busy world, we don’t take care of our eyes. An unhealthy routine can cause different eye conditions that can be turned into permanent blindness over time. One such condition is eye flu, which is very popular nowadays. It is a spreadable virus that is medically termed as conjunctivitis.
Eye flu happens when the thin, clear layer covering the white part of your eyes and the inside of your eyelids gets inflamed. This eye problem arises by viruses and can make your eyes red, itchy, and watery. It can also lead to a sticky discharge and make your eyes feel uncomfortable. It is contagious, which means this disease can pass from person to person easily. You might have it by touching your eyes after touching surfaces or objects that have the virus on them, or by close contact with someone who has this eye problem. Eye flu is not age restricted, it can affect people of all ages. It can make your eyes feel uncomfortable and annoying, but in most cases, it gets better with the right care and treatment, and it usually doesn’t lead to any big problems.
Types of Eye Flu
There are four main types of eye flu, which we’ll talk about briefly below:
Viral conjunctivitis, also known as “eye flu,” happens when a tiny germ called a virus gets into your eye. This germ can make your eye feel red, itchy, and have a lot of tears. It’s a bit like when you get a cold, but it affects your eye instead. This kind of eye problem spreads quite easily, so it’s really important to wash your hands a lot and try not to touch your eyes if you have it. Sometimes, it can get better by itself after a while, but if it’s really bothering you, a doctor might give you special medicine to help it go away faster. After a little while (usually about 5 to 12 days), your eye might start to look red and feel watery and sore.
This usually starts in one eye and then goes to the other one pretty quickly. You might also feel a little bump near your ear. Doctors and patients need to be really careful because viral conjunctivitis is super easy to spread. They wash their hands a lot and clean their tools to make sure it doesn’t spread to other people. If you have it, you should also be careful not to touch your eyes or share things like towels. Most of the time, it goes away on its own after about 1 to 3 weeks. You can use cool wet cloths on your eyes to help them feel better. But if it’s really bothering you, a special eye doctor might give you some special medicine to help.
Bacterial conjunctivitis is one of the most common eye problems. It happens when tiny germs called bacteria infect your eye. Most of the time, it’s a short-term problem and doesn’t cause big health issues. But because it spreads easily, it can make people miss school or work. Doctors often use antibiotics to help it go away faster and stop it from spreading. There are different kinds of bacterial conjunctivitis. Some are more serious and need special treatment. When you have bacterial conjunctivitis, it means the pink part of your eye, called the conjunctiva, gets infected by bacteria. This part goes from the inside of your eyelids to the white part of your eye. The main bacteria that cause short-term bacterial conjunctivitis are Staphylococcus aureus, Streptococcus pneumoniae, and Haemophilus influenzae. These germs can spread from your hands to your eyes or from other nearby parts of your body.
Some risk factors that can make it more likely for you to get bacterial conjunctivitis are:
- Not being very clean
- Not taking good care of contact lenses
- Using makeup that might have germs in it
- Being in crowded places like schools or military barracks
- Having certain eye problems or surgeries
- Using certain medications for a long time
- Having a weak immune system
- Being a newborn baby
When you have bacterial conjunctivitis, you might notice:
- Your eye is red, either in one or both eyes
- You have gooey stuff coming out of your eye, which can be yellowish or greenish
- Your eye feels irritated, like it’s burning or stinging
- Your eyes might water a lot
- You might not be able to stand bright lights
- You might not want to wear contact lenses
- Your vision might be blurry or not as clear
To figure out if you have bacterial conjunctivitis, doctors mostly look at your eyes and ask about how you feel. They might not need to do any special tests, but sometimes they might use a quick test to check for certain germs. There are other things that can make your eyes look similar to bacterial conjunctivitis, like certain viruses, allergies, or other eye conditions. But doctors can usually tell the difference by looking at your eyes and asking questions. Most of the time, bacterial conjunctivitis gets better on its own in about 10 days. But sometimes, doctors give antibiotics to help it go away faster. They’ll also tell you to be careful not to spread it to others.
The conjunctiva is a clear layer of tissue that covers the white part of your eye and lines your eyelids. Allergic conjunctivitis happens when this tissue gets swollen or inflamed because of an allergic reaction to things like pollen, dust mites, pet fur, mold, or other allergy-causing stuff. When your eyes meet these allergy-triggering things, your body releases something called histamine. This makes the blood vessels in your conjunctiva get bigger, which can quickly make your eyes red, itchy, and teary. Different kinds of pollen can cause this, and it can vary depending on where you live. It’s usually worse when there’s more pollen in the air, which happens more on hot, dry, and windy days. Rainy days wash away a lot of the pollen.
Other things like mold, pet fur, or tiny creatures called dust mites can also lead to this problem. Sometimes, allergies run in families, but it’s a bit tricky to figure out how many people have them because there are many things that can be called allergies, even if they’re not really allergies.
When you have allergic conjunctivitis, you might notice:
- Your eyes itching or feeling like they’re burning a lot
- Swollen eyelids, especially in the morning
- Red eyes
- Sticky discharge from your eyes
- Lots of tears
- Blood vessels in the clear part of your eye looking wider
Doctors might do some tests to check if you have this, like looking for small bumps inside your eyelids or doing allergy tests on your skin. These tests can show what’s causing your symptoms. The best way to deal with it is to stay away from the things that cause your allergies. Some things you can do to feel better are:
- Use special eye drops that keep your eyes moist.
- Put cool, wet cloths on your eyes.
- Avoid smoking and places where people smoke.
- Take over-the-counter medicines like antihistamines or eye drops with antihistamines or decongestants. They can help a lot, but don’t use the eye drops for more than 5 days, and don’t use them if you’re wearing contact lenses.
- If home remedies don’t work, your doctor might prescribe special eye drops with antihistamines, or eye drops that reduce swelling. In more serious cases, they might suggest mild steroid eye drops. They will make sure you’re using them correctly and may send you to an eye specialist for a closer look.
Chemical conjunctivitis happens when something that can hurt your eyes comes into contact with them, like certain chemicals or substances. This can make the clear tissue covering your eye and eyelids (called the conjunctiva) get red, swollen, and irritated. It is like when you accidentally get soap or a cleaning product in your eye and it makes your eye feel uncomfortable. This type of conjunctivitis is different from infections or allergies because it’s caused by something that can be irritating, rather than germs or allergies. If anything ever gets in your eyes and it doesn’t feel right, it’s really important to tell a grown-up right away. They can help you wash it out and make sure your eyes are okay. They want to make sure your eyes stay safe and healthy!
Causes of Eye Flu:
Eye flu, also known as conjunctivitis, happens when the thin, see-through layer covering the white part of your eyes and the inside of your eyelids gets inflamed. This can make your eyes red, itchy, and irritated. There are different reasons why this can happen, and it’s important to understand them to prevent it from spreading and get the right treatment.
1. Viral Infections:
- One common reason for eye flu is a viral infection. It’s usually caused by something called adenoviruses, which are the same things that can give you a cold or make you have a stuffy nose. This type of eye flu can spread easily when you touch things that have the virus on them and then touch your eyes.
2. Bacterial Infections:
- Sometimes, bacteria like Staphylococcus aureus, Streptococcus pneumoniae, or Haemophilus influenzae can cause eye flu. This can happen if these bacteria get into your eyes from dirty hands, sharing things like towels or makeup, or not washing your hands properly.
- Another type of eye flu is caused by allergies. This happens when your eyes react to things like pollen, pet fur, dust mites, or certain eye drops. When this happens, your immune system releases something called histamines, which makes your eyes red, itchy, and swollen.
4. Environmental Irritants:
- Sometimes, things in the environment can make your eyes feel like they have the flu. Smoke, pollution, chlorine in swimming pools, and strong chemicals can irritate your eyes and make them red, itchy, and watery. But don’t worry, this kind of eye flu can’t spread to other people.
5. Newborn Conjunctivitis:
- Sometimes, babies can get eye flu shortly after they’re born. This can happen if they pick up an infection during delivery. It is really important to get medical help right away to protect the baby’s vision.
Eye Flu Symptoms:
1. Redness and Irritation:
- Eye flu often makes your eyes look pink or red. It might feel like there’s something in your eye, and it can be a bit scratchy or itchy.
2. Watery Eyes:
- Sometimes, when you have eye flu, your eyes may make more tears than usual. This can make your eyes feel wet, and it might be a bit hard to see clearly.
3. Sensitiveness to Light:
- Eye flu can make your eyes very sensitive to bright lights. It might be uncomfortable or even a little painful when you’re in a place that’s very bright.
4. Discharge From The Eyes:
- You might wake up with a sticky stuff in the corner of your eyes. It can be yellow or greenish and make your eyelids stick together a bit.
5. Gritty Sensation:
- Sometimes, it might feel like there’s tiny bits of sand or dirt in your eyes. This is because of the irritation caused by the eye flu.
6. Crusting of Eyelids:
- If you have bacterial eye flu, the sticky stuff in your eyes can dry up and form little crusts around your eyelids. It might be a bit hard to open your eyes in the morning because of this.
7. Swelling of Eyelids:
- With eye flu caused by allergies, your eyelids might puff up a bit and look swollen. They might feel a little heavy or uncomfortable.
8. Discomfort While Blinking:
- When you blink your eyes, it might not feel very nice if you have eye flu. It can make the itchiness and discomfort worse.
Eye Flu Treatment Options:
1. Keep Everything Clean:
- It’s really important to wash your hands a lot when you have eye flu. Try not to touch your eyes too much, and don’t share things like towels, pillows, or makeup with others. This helps stop the eye flu from spreading to others or from getting worse.
2. Use Something Warm:
- Putting a warm cloth on your affected eye can be really helpful. It can make any crust or gooey stuff that might have formed in your eye feel better and softer.
3. Take a Break from Contact Lenses:
- If you usually wear contact lenses, it’s a good idea to switch to glasses for a little while until your eyes get better. This gives your eyes a break and helps them heal up faster.
4. Medicine for Relief:
- In some cases, a special kind of eye drops might be prescribed by a doctor. These can help your eyes feel better and heal faster. They’ll make sure the medicine is safe for you and show you how to use it.
5. Rest Your Eyes:
- It’s a good idea to rest your eyes and avoid doing things that might make them feel worse. Watching TV or using screens for a long time can sometimes make eye flu symptoms worse.
When you have a problem with your eyes, the first thing to do is to go see a special eye doctor, either an optometrist or ophthalmologist. They will look at your eyes very carefully to figure out what’s going on.
1. Check How Well You See:
- The doctor will see how well you can see things. They might ask you to read letters on a chart or look at pictures to make sure your vision is okay.
2. Look at the Clear Layer on Your Eyes:
- They’ll examine the clear layer covering the white part of your eyes and the inside of your eyelids. They’re checking for signs like redness, swelling, or anything that might show there’s a problem.
3. Check Your Eyelids:
- The doctor will look at your eyelids to see if there’s any crustiness, swelling, or stuff coming out of your eyes.
4. Look at the Clear Front Part of Your Eyes:
- They’ll also look at the clear part at the front of your eyes called the cornea. This helps them see if there’s anything unusual or if there’s any sign of infection.
5. See How Your Pupils React:
- The doctor will shine a light into your eyes to see how your pupils react. This helps them make sure everything is working the way it should.
Preventing Conjunctivitis: Important Steps to Stay Healthy
Eye flu, also called conjunctivitis, can spread from one person to another, so it’s important to be careful. Here’s what you can do:
1. Wash Your Hands: Wash your hands a lot, and do it really well with soap and water. This is especially important after touching your eyes, face, or things that might have touched your infected eye.
2. Keep Your Hands Away: Try not to touch your eyes with your hands, especially if your hands aren’t clean. This can help stop the infection from spreading.
3. Personal Stuff: Don’t share personal things like towels, washcloths, or makeup with others. These things can pick up the infection and pass it on.
4. Be Clean: Keep things clean around you. Change your pillowcases often and don’t rub or touch your eyes too much, as it can make things worse.
5. Isolation: If you or someone you know has the viral kind of eye flu, it’s a good idea to stay away from others for a while. This helps make sure it doesn’t spread, especially in places like schools or hospitals.
6. Avoid Things That Irritate: Stay away from things like smoke or chemicals because they can make your eye flu worse or make allergy-related eye problems happen.
7. Allergy Triggers: If your eye flu is due to allergies, figure out what’s causing it, like pollen or pet fur, and try to avoid those things.
8. See a Doctor: If you think you have eye flu or have been around someone who does, talk to a doctor for advice and to find out how to stay safe and get better.
By following these simple steps, you can protect yourself and others from eye flu and make sure everyone stays healthy.