The Caribbean Public Health Agency (CARPHA) has confirmed outbreaks of conjunctivitis, commonly referred to as “red eye or pink eye” in several countries in the region.
In a statement on Saturday CARPHA’s Director for Surveillance, Disease Prevention and Control, Dr. Virginia Asin-Oostburg, said the agency is currently monitoring the situation and urged persons to take the necessary precautions to prevent and reduce the spread of this illness.
“Conjunctivitis refers to inflammation of the membrane covering the whites of the eyes and the inside of the eyelids. The congestion of blood vessels in this membrane gives rise to a reddened appearance ,” said the CARPHA official.
The most common causes of conjunctivitis are viruses, bacteria, and allergens. Viral and bacterial conjunctivitis are very contagious and can spread easily from person to person.
According to CARPHA, eye symptoms can include redness; irritation; itchiness; production of excessive tears; clear or yellow discharge that may make the eyelids stick together, especially on mornings and swelling of the eye lids.
It said the risk of getting conjunctivitis, or spreading it to someone else can be reduced and CARPHA advised members of the public to practice some simple good, hygiene steps which include: avoiding close contact with persons who are ill with conjunctival symptoms; keeping unwashed hands away from face and eyes; washing hands often with soap and warm water and alternatively using an alcohol based hand-sanitizer.
CARPHA also advised persons to disinfect frequently-touched surfaces in common areas.
The agency further advised that once the infection goes away, it is important to avoid re-infection by discarding disposable contact lenses and cases that were used while eyes were infected.