Aashob-e-Chasham hits population in the region hard

Muhammad Qasim
Monday, Sep 25, 2023

Rawalpindi:A viral infection of the eyes commonly known as ‘Aashob-e-Chasham’ or Pink Eye has started hitting the population here in the twin cities of Islamabad and Rawalpindi and the neighbouring regions and the number of patients falling victim to the disease is continuously on the rise.

The three allied hospitals in town including Holy Family Hospital, Benazir Bhutto Hospital, and District Headquarters Hospital along with public sector hospitals in the federal capital and the private healthcare facilities operating in this region of the country have been receiving a significant influx of patients suffering from the viral infection known as Epidemic Adenoviral Conjunctivitis. The infection is considered to be highly contagious in nature.

The pink eye infection or conjunctivitis that is endemic in the country normally turns into an epidemic after floods mainly because of the huge gatherings, traveling of people at massive scale, and poor hygiene, said the Head of Ophthalmology at Rawalpindi Medical College and allied hospitals Professor Dr Fuad Niazi while talking to ‘The News’ on Sunday.

It is important that the infection started hitting the population in Karachi and other areas of the Sindh province last month taking the shape of an epidemic that later spread to a number of areas in the Punjab province.

Dr. Fuad said it is generally observed that the epidemic of Adenoviral Conjunctivitis repeats itself after every 10 years or so in Pakistan. Normally, the infection starts with light irritation in one eye after which haemorrhages appear in the white area of the eye turning it into red but later the second eye also gets involved. The infection causes inflammation and severe itching in the eyes. The infection is self-limiting means it subsides after a few days by itself, he explained.

He said that no medication is needed for a cure of the infection generally, however, a patient should consult a qualified doctor as the infection affecting the cornea may result in complications. He added the patients are given medication not only for comfort but also to prevent complications of the infection. If the cornea is involved and serious complications occur, a patient may suffer from visual problems for even months to years before achieving a cure, said Professor Niazi.

He, however, said the infection generally takes a week to subside. The patients should wash their eyes with cold water. Also, ice packing of the eyes gives significant relief. A healthy person may not get infected by sitting in the company of a patient or by sharing food with a patient. The infection spreads mainly through the water flowing out of the infected eyes. If a patient touches his or her eyes and then shakes hands with someone, the person might get the infection, he explained.

Studies reveal that in the beginning, the infection causes itching in the eyes then the eyes become congested and red. Finally, swelling of the eye coat occurs along with watering and pain. Few patients also experience flu and fever however in the majority of the cases, the recovery starts in two to three days. Normally, once the infection heals up, the patient gets lifelong immunity against it, which means exposure to the infection for a second time is unlikely.

On prevention, Dr. Fuad said that a patient should separate his towel and pillow immediately after getting the infection. Also, a patient should wash his hands with disinfectant or soap immediately after touching his eyes. A patient should use tissue paper or a clean towel for drying eyes and should wear sunglasses that comfort as well as help to prevent the spread of the infection.