Mombasa County recently issued an alert on the outbreak of conjunctivitis also known as red eye.

The county’s administration has cautioned residents to be alert after several cases of the ‘red eye’ or ‘pink eye’ disease were reported, with people flocking health facilities for urgent care.

Tanzania health officials also issued an alert on the disease last week.

But what is ‘red eye’ disease?

Conjunctivitis or ‘red eye’ as commonly known is an eye condition caused by inflammation of the transparent membrane that lines the eyelid and eyeball.

When the small blood vessels in the membrane (conjunctiva) swell up, it causes irritation, which then causes the white part of the eyes to appear reddish.

Causes of Red Eye

The condition is caused by viral or bacterial infection, or an allergic reaction.

Viral conjunctivitis starts with one eye and spreads to the other and can occur with symptoms of flu and respiratory infections.

On the other hand, bacterial conjunctivitis is associated with discharge which can lead to sticky eyelids and at times an ear infection.

In babies, it can be caused by an incompletely opened tear duct, global health publications say.

The condition can be viral or bacterial conjunctivitis which is very contagious.

Wearing contact lenses that are not cleaned properly or belong to someone can cause bacterial conjunctivitis.

The ‘red eye’ disease can also be caused by adenovirus but also can be caused by other viruses including herpes simplex virus and varicella-zoster virus.

Symptoms of Red Eye

Its various symptoms include; a pink or red color in the white of the eyes, swelling of the conjunctiva, and increased tear production.

One can also experience itchiness, discharge of pus or mucus that sticks to the lashes, or crusting of eyelids or lashes.

Viral and bacterial conjunctivitis can occur along with a cold or symptoms of a respiratory infection such as sore throat.

How to Prevent Disease

The virus can spread through direct contact with the liquid that drains from the eye of someone who is infected.

The condition barely affects the vision but can get better within some days without treatment.

It can also make patients teary and sensitive to light.

To avoid spreading the infection to others, one can regularly wash their hands with warm soapy water, cover their mouth and nose when sneezing, and dispose of used materials in the bin.

An infected person should not share personal items like towels, pillows, eye drops, or makeup.

You are also advised to avoid touching or rubbing your eyes or face.

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