A 10 year old boy visited my hospital today with his mum. He looked so unhappy and disappointed. I asked what the problem was and he replied saying “doctor I missed school today because my eye hurts me seriously, it’s so red, water comes out from my eye, when ever I look at light it hurts me alot, I feel like there’s sand in my eyes, and on waking up this morning my eyelids were gummed together, and the worst part is that it has transferred to my left eye”. After my thorough examination, I discovered the young boy had acute hemorrhagic conjunctivitis, more popularly known as “Apollo.”
So what really is acute hemorrhagic conjunctivitis and how can someone prevent this eye condition from worsening? This article describes in brief what acute hemorrhagic conjunctivitis, the signs and symptoms and how you can avoid this eye condition from becoming worse.
What is Acute Hemorrhagic Conjunctivitis?
Acute hemorrhagic conjunctivitis (AHC), commonly called APOLLO, is simply the inflammation of the conjunctiva of the eye. This eye infection is caused by a virus, and it usually resolves on its own even without medication. The conjunctiva is the thin clear tissue that lies over the white part of the eye and lines the inside of the eyelid. Acute hemorrhagic conjunctivitis was nick-named “Apollo” because many believed that the eye infection was brought from space to Accra Ghana in 1969 which was the year Apollo II landed on the moon.
There are people who also think that Apollo is caused by a white cotton plant which sometimes gets blown by wind especially during harmattan season. But this is not true! This eye infection is caused by a Virus, and not by the white cotton plant or by looking at an infected person’s eye. However, Apollo is a very contagious diseases and may affect both eyes and people around.
What Are The Signs and Symptoms?
The more common symptoms of Apollo include:
- Burning eyes.
- Red eyes.
- Watery eyes.
- Crusted eyelids or lashes.
- Itchy eyes.
- Gritty feeling, especially when blinking.
- Discharge that forms a crust like structure around the eyelids preventing it from opening.
- Sensitivity to bright light.
- Swelling of the eyelid.
Eye doctors usually prescribe antibacterial eye drops to prevent further inflammation and infection. Patients are recommended to keep away from crowds to prevent the spread of the virus that causes the disease.
12 Tips to Prevent Apollo From Getting Worse
Apollo is an acute condition which means it lasts only for a short period, and it is self-limiting in healthy people. However, failure to follow hygienic conditions and carelessness can make it a critical condition which can lead to blindness. So when infected with Apollo, ensure that you:
- Avoid the use of urine, breast milk, onions, sugar solution, local herbs, etc to treat Apollo. They cause more harm than good.
- Frequent hand washing with soap.
- Avoid touching your face, particularly the eye area.
- Avoid sharing towels/handkerchief or personal hygiene kits with others.
- See a doctor immediately if your eyes are swollen, red, and itching.
- Avoid rubbing the affected eye.
- Rest for 7 to 14 days.
- Minimize exposure to crowd to avoid spread of infection.
- Always wipe the eye discharge with cotton wool and saline water before instilling the eye drop.
- Use your eye drop regularly as prescribed by your Eye Doctor.
- Change pillow case as often as possible.
- Avoid wearing other people’s contact lenses. Also, do not use contact lenses when you have Apollo.
Children with the eye infection need to take some days off from day care centers, schools, and other social gatherings.