In the Philippines, the start of summer means the spread of many infections such as sore eyes ( viral conjunctivitis). Although treatable and usually resolves on its own, sore eyes like other infections, is highly contagious and can result to an epidemic.

According to the Philippine Academy of Ophthalmology (PAO), sore eyes is a common eye infection that affects the thin covering of the eyeball called conjuctiva and the inner eyelid. Causes may vary from virus, bacteria, to allergens (like dust mites), to irritants such as chlorine in pool water that can infect the eyes and the eye lid lining.

A person with sore eyes experiences redness, stinging or gritty sensation, itching, and sticky discharge. The infection may cause tearing, blurry vision, discharges, increased sensitivity to light, and crusting of eyelids and lashes. Sometimes, a person with sore eyes also has a runny nose and sore throat.

Sore eyes usually last for a week or until 10 days.  There is however no definitive medication for sore eyes.  Treatment which include cool compresses, ocular vasconstrictors and anihistaminics are only to ease to discomfort. In severe cases, ocular steroids may be prescribed but should be monitored by an eye doctor.

Leading health care provider PhilCare said sore eyes can easily be prevented with proper hygiene. Frequent hand washing is important to avoid spreading or catching this disease. The Department of Health (DOH) recommends washing of hands at least 20 times a day, especially before eating and coming out of the bathroom.

PhilCare says it is also important not to share make-up. Germs could easily be spread through cosmetics. In fact, a person is likely to get bacterial infection when using testers in beauty counters.

PhilCare adds one should not touch the eyes and face with unclean hands or share personal things such as towels, handkerchiefs and eyeglasses.  The health care provider says it is important to wash pillow cases, washcloths, in hot water and detergent and avoid swimming in pools.