In the wake of a recent increase in reported cases of conjunctivitis, commonly referred to as “Red Eye”, the Ministry of Health has advised the public to take the necessary precaution.

“Red Eye” is inflammation of the conjunctiva or the lining of the eyelid. It may be caused by bacteria or viruses. This condition may affect persons of all ages, but young children generally suffer more than adults. Pre-schoolers and school-age children are affected more often because of over-crowding and a lack of good hand-washing and hygiene.

Some of the symptoms of “Red Eye” include swollen eyelids, sometimes causing the eye to almost fully close; pink/red eyes; sore, itchy and sometimes painful eyes and a discharge causing the eye to be sticky and crusty.

The condition may require treatment with antibiotic eye drops and or ointment prescribed by a medical doctor. If one gets treatment that person should follow the instructions carefully. The disease is usually a mild illness that will go away in one to six weeks.

Chief Medical Officer, Dr. Joy St. John, in noting that the spread of infective conjunctivitis was common, especially in families, said it was important to adopt good hygiene practices.

She said: “To prevent the spread of this disease, we are urging individuals not to share towels, toiletries or eye makeup; always wash hands before and after applying treatment and or cleansing the eyes; and try not to touch or scratch the infected eyes, but if you do, wash your hands thoroughly.

“Other precautions include completing the course of any drops and/or ointment prescribed by one’s doctor. This medication should be used only on the person for whom it is prescribed,” she stressed.

The Chief Medical Officer has also advised persons who think they might be suffering with “Red Eye” to “visit your doctor or polyclinic promptly and follow the advice of medical personnel.”

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