A medical expert in Ilorin, Dr Misbau Lawal, has advised people to imbibe the habit of regular hand washing to avoid contracting viral and bacterial infection of the eye currently spreading.
The infection, known as ‘conjunctivitis’ in medical parlance and ‘appollo’ in local parlance, is inflammation of the conjunctiva, a thin, filmy membrane that covers the white portion of the eyes. According to Lawal, the conjunctiva, which produces mucous to coat and lubricate the surface of the eye, contains fine blood vessels that can be seen on close inspection. Lawal advised people to keep their hands away from the eyes and thoroughly wash hands before and after applying eye medications on infected children. He explained that conjunctivitis was a common eye problem that affected people of all age groups and one of the most common eye infections in children. The physician added that the most common cause of irritation of the eye layer was due to allergies in the environment, which included air pollution, smoke, pollen from trees and grass. He also explained that when the conjunctiva became irritated or inflamed, the blood vessels, which supplied it, enlarged and became more prominent, causing the eye to turn red. According to him, symptoms include pinkness or redness in the eye red, inflamed inner eyelids, blurred vision, sandy or scratchy feeling in the eye, pus, mucous, or watery discharge from the eye. “People who work in health care settings or with children, have a high risk of exposure to the viruses that can cause viral conjunctivitis,” he warned. He also warned against sharing of towels, washcloth, cosmetics, or eye-drops with others, advising those infected to seek treatment promptly. The expert also advised that infected small children, who may forget these precautions, be kept away from school, camp, and the swimming pool, until their condition was cured. The outbreak is prevalent among children who mostly get infected from schools. In some of the hospital visited in Ilorin metropolis, many children with symptoms of ‘apollo’, were brought for medical treatment.