What is an eye flu?

Eye flu is a highly contagious viral disease of the conjunctiva, which is caused by an infection with the so-called adenoviruses. In case of suspected eye flu, a doctor should be consulted immediately, as this disease is notifiable due to their high risk of infection.

How do you get eye flu?

Infection with the pathogens of the eye flu takes place via a smear infection. The disease-causing viruses are in the tear fluid. After the person has rubbed his eyes, there are two possible ways in which the pathogens can be distributed in the environment:

  1. by direct physical contact, such as handshaking
  2. indirectly by touching objects in the environment, such as door handles or handles in public transport

Especially with infants, caution is advised as they tend to unintentionally touch all objects within their reach, thus increasing the risk of infection for the child.

There is also an increased risk for contact lens wearers as they regularly look at the virus to transmit it.

How can I protect myself from eye flu?

Although the adenoviruses are highly resilient and can survive for several weeks on items such as doorknobs, it is highly recommended to take hygiene measures such as frequent hand washing and disinfection to prevent contagion and spread of the eye flu.

It should also be noted that those affected are contagious during the incubation period of up to twelve days, ie before the onset of symptoms.

What are signs of eye flu?

The symptoms of an acute eye flu are similar to those of a classic conjunctivitis, which makes the demarcation and diagnosis difficult. Typical signs include:

  • red eyes
  • watery eyes
  • Itching or burning in the eye
  • a blurred field of vision
  • high photosensitivity
  • a swollen conjunctiva
  • swollen lymph nodes

In addition, flu-like symptoms are common:

  • fever
  • a headache
  • body aches

Another typical feature of the eye flu is that the symptoms initially only occur in one eye and then spread to the other.

Diagnosis: Eye flu or conjunctivitis?

Eye flu is a particularly aggressive form of conjunctivitis that is specifically triggered by the adenoviruses. Conversely, common conjunctivitis may also be of bacterial origin.

Because of the similarity of symptoms, it is often not easy for physicians to clearly distinguish the eye flu from a normal, harmless conjunctivitis.

A 100 percent correct diagnosis can therefore only be made by a smear of the conjunctiva. In the subsequent examination of the smear, the eye flu inducing adenoviruses can be clearly identified by the doctor.

Treatment and course of an eye flu

An eye flu can not be treated with medication. However, the symptoms of an eye flu can be alleviated by eye drops or eye ointments.

A treatment with antibiotics is in contrast to the treatment of a common, bacterial conjunctivitis in the case of eye flu not appropriate. The background is that antibiotics are generally ineffective in viruses and would additionally burden the weakened body by any side effects.

The use of home remedies for eye flu, just like the conventional eye drops or eye ointments, only relieve the symptoms. In any case, you should talk with your doctor before using homemade home remedies for symptom relief. Common home remedies for eye flu include drinking cistus tea and placing cool rags on the eye area.

Duration and sick leave

The duration of an eye flu can vary between 10 days and 4 weeks, after which the symptoms resolve themselves.

As a rule, the doctor will send the patient sick for two to three weeks. The person concerned should adhere strictly to the doctor's instructions in order to prevent the spread of highly contagious eye flu.

Consequences of eye flu

Slight opacities of the cornea can occur as a delayed result after an eye flu. These cloudinesses heal completely after a few weeks. In rare cases, however, permanent corneal clouding may result, leading to deterioration of vision. Here, the patient is usually treated with cortisone-containing eye drops.

If this method of treatment remains ineffective, a laser treatment is recommended in which the corneal opacities are surgically removed.

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