How to prevent spread of Red Eye Disease

Red eye disease, or conjunctivitis, has recently swept across Uganda. The ministry of Health says at least 8,000 cases have been reported in the last one month.

The disease causes inflammation, redness, and irritation of the conjunctiva, the thin membrane covering the white part of the eye.

While often not serious, doctors say it can be uncomfortable and contagious. Implementing effective measures to contain and manage red eye disease is crucial in preventing its spread and ensuring swift recovery for affected individuals.

Measures to contain the disease

  1. Hand Hygiene: Encourage frequent handwashing with soap and water, especially after touching the eyes or face. This helps prevent the spread of infectious agents that can cause red eye disease.
  2. Avoid Touching Eyes: Advise individuals to refrain from touching their eyes with unwashed hands, as this can introduce bacteria or viruses into the eye, leading to infection.
  3. Personal Protective Equipment (PPE): In situations where individuals are in close contact with others, such as in healthcare settings or during outbreaks, wearing protective eyewear can reduce the risk of exposure to infectious agents.
  4. Avoiding Eye Irritants: Minimize exposure to known irritants such as smoke, dust, and pollen, which can trigger allergic conjunctivitis. This can be achieved through the use of protective eyewear or by staying indoors during high pollen seasons.
  5. Good Hygiene Practices: Encourage the use of clean towels, pillows, and other personal items to prevent the spread of bacteria or viruses that can cause red eye disease.
  6. Isolation of Infected Individuals: Individuals diagnosed with contagious forms of red eye disease should avoid close contact with others until they are no longer contagious. This helps prevent the spread of the disease to family members, friends, or colleagues.
  7. Environmental Cleaning: Regularly clean and disinfect frequently touched surfaces such as doorknobs, countertops, and shared electronic devices to reduce the transmission of infectious agents.

While prevention is key, doctors say it is also important to address red eye disease promptly when it occurs. Treatment options vary depending on the underlying cause and may include:

  • Antibiotic Eye Drops: Effective for bacterial conjunctivitis.
  • Antiviral Medications: Used to treat viral conjunctivitis caused by certain viruses.
  • Antihistamines: Help alleviate symptoms of allergic conjunctivitis.
  • Artificial Tears: Provide relief from dryness and irritation associated with red eye disease.

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