Epidemic keratoconjunctivitis, commonly known as EKC, is a viral form of conjunctivitis. Ranking among the most prevalent eye diseases, EKC is notably contagious, often presenting in large outbreaks.

Primary Symptoms

  • Eye Redness: Typically initiates in one eye and has the potential to affect the other.
  • Irritation and Itchiness: Comparable to the sensation when foreign particles, like dust, come into contact with the eye.
  • Photophobia: Enhanced sensitivity to light, resulting in increased tearing.
  • Eyelid Swelling: Experiencing substantial mucus upon awakening can cause the eyelids to adhere together, complicating the process of opening them.
  • Lymph Node Inflammation: Enlarged lymph nodes near the ears can be painful upon touch.

Root Causes and Transmission

EKC stems from adenovirus serotypes 8, 19, and 37. Following an incubation span of 2-14 days, its highly infectious nature facilitates its transmission. Direct hand-to-eye contact, or indirectly through shared swimming facilities, can propagate the spread.

Potential Complications

The disease might extend to the cornea, occasionally leading to extended infections lasting multiple months.

Treatment Approaches

While EKC often resolves naturally, infections in the conjunctiva last about 2-3 weeks, whereas corneal infections might persist for a month.

Without a dedicated treatment for this viral ailment, symptom-based interventions include cold compresses for swelling alleviation, artificial tear application, and antihistamine eye drops to counter itchiness. In cases of bacterial complications, antibiotics are recommended.

Steroid-based eye drops are reserved for severe conjunctival swelling or corneal inflammation. Nevertheless, all treatments should be under the guidance of a qualified ophthalmologist. Unprescribed medication usage may prolong the ailment or induce severe side effects, including ocular herpes zoster.

Preventive Measures

  • Refrain from sharing personal items like handkerchiefs, clothing, or pillows.
  • Avoid rubbing the eyes, especially with unclean hands or cloths.
  • Do not use eye drops belonging to someone else.
  • Prioritise regular hand hygiene.