I See, I Saw: Mystery of the Red Eye

An all-too-familiar scenario…

A fellow pops up with the eye(s) raging ‘red’ or ‘pink’ (depending on the observer) with a pretty add-on of notably swollen eye lids, and boom! We’re averting our eyes, knowing full well that we’d undoubtedly contract the infamous ‘Apollo’ simply by looking at the unfortunate man’s eyes.

That ‘busy body’ neighbor even has the effrontery to challenge this age old phenomenon, and is forced to eat his words when Amina who listens to him and looks into the affected man’s eyes to test the point, actually develops her own lovely pink eyes just 24 hours later .

‘Apollo’ is a local name for the highly contagious condition known as a ‘conjunctivitis’ caused by viruses or bacteria… and nope! It cannot be transferred simply by looking into an infected person’s eyes. Conjunctivitis caused by allergies, foreign objects in the eyes or chemical irritants isn’t contagious, and hence does not fall within the ‘Apollo’ cadre.

Conjunctivitis simply refers to inflaming of the thin tissue that lines the inner surfaces of the eye lids and the whites of the eye balls. The redness/swelling simply comes from the inflammation in this tissue following a bacterial or viral infection. Other symptoms include increased discharge of tears, thick yellowish discharge from eyes that may crust and cause the eye lid to stick together especially after sleep, swollen eye lids, etc…sound familiar?

I’ll repeat, ‘Apollo’ isn’t transmitted simply by looking into an infected person’s eyes. It however remains a highly contagious infection which spreads quite easily and quickly through direct contact with an infected person (touching, shaking hands) or by touching surfaces/objects contaminated with the bacteria or virus (door knobs, towels, etc.). The victim unwittingly touches his/her eyes and there! ‘Apollo’ happens!

Apollo may be treated using antibiotic eye drops/ointments when caused by bacteria, or would resolve on its own when caused by a virus (within 14 days). Question is, how to know which is which? Don’t trouble your lovely selves, and simply see your healthcare provider for proper guidance, Apollo or not.

Spreading ‘Apollo’ can be prevented through the following measures…avoid touching/rubbing infected eye(s), regular hand washing with soap and water, wash hands after applying eye drops or ointments to eyes, avoid sharing personal items like contact lenses and make up, avoid sharing towels/washcloths, etc.

Do a bit of research…know a bit more.