Epidemic keratoconjunctivitis is an eye infection caused by adenoviruses. Adenoviruses are a family of viruses that are responsible for illnesses like the common cold, pneumonia, and bronchitis. If these viruses get into your eyes, they can lead to epidemic keratoconjunctivitis. Here are four things you need to know about this serious eye infection.
What are the symptoms of epidemic keratoconjunctivitis?
If you have this infection, one or both of your eyes will be red and sore. Your eyes will also feel irritated and watery, and you may feel like you have sand in your eyes. You may feel pain within your eye or in the skin around your eye. You may also experience bleeding beneath the whites of your eyes which will make your eyes look alarmingly red.
Some people also suffer from flu-like symptoms such as nausea, vomiting, fever, and muscle aches. If you experience these symptoms, see your optometrist right away.
Is it contagious?
Epidemic keratoconjunctivitis is very contagious. The virus can live on nonporous surfaces like door knobs or railings for five weeks. The virus responsible for the infection is resistant to standard disinfectants, so even if surfaces like door knobs are cleaned regularly, viruses could still be present. Touching one of these contaminated surfaces and then rubbing your eyes can lead to infection, so be sure to always wash your hands before you touch your face or eyes.
Keratoconjunctivitis can also spread through air droplets. People with this infection are contagious for three days before they show any symptoms and for fourteen days after symptoms start. This mode of transmission helps the virus spread rapidly through closed environments like schools, workplaces, and hospitals.
How is it treated?
Usually, this infection goes away by itself within one to three weeks, but your optometrist can give you treatments to ease your symptoms while your body fights off the infection. These treatments include artificial tears and cold compresses. If your eye is severely swollen, you may be given corticosteroids. Corticosteroids reduce swelling and can help to protect your cornea and other eye tissues from damage, but they also suppress your immune system, which makes the infection last longer.
Is epidemic keratoconjunctivitis common?
Studies have reported that epidemic keratoconjunctivitis is responsible for between 15% and 70% of conjunctivitis cases throughout the world.
If your eyes are red and sore, see your optometrist right away because you might have epidemic keratoconjunctivitis. Speak with a representative from an establishment like Whiteville Eye Associates for more information.