I am a 54-yr-old female contact lens wearer who was diagnosed with EKC three months ago by a local Opthamologist. About 2 1/2 weeks after I was diagnosed, I flew from Miami to Phoenix and the next day I came down with a sinus/sore throat virus that lasted 5 weeks. I saw my family doctor about three weeks into the sinus infection, and took Zithromax, but it didn't help.
I have since had flare ups of the eye redness, pain and light sensitivity 3 times since the original episode.
Twice it was after I had begun to wear my contacts again. Once it occurred the day after I had taken two 30-minute airplane trips in one day. I had not been wearing my contacts before the plane trips.
The last incident started Sunday with lots of redness and stinging. It was so painful I had to use the Acular that my opthamologist prescribed. ( I limit use of the Acular because I have read about the side effects it can have.) My sinuses seemed to be inflamed, too. On Monday the pain was gone, but I had intense eye itching that I have never had before. I have had little itching but much light sensitivity and mild pain Tues, Weds and Thurs (today). The redness is clearing up.
Before the present episode I thought I was getting over the EKC, as I had been able to wear my contacts for 3-4 hours at a time, 4 out of the 5 days before the redness began.
My questions are:
1. Does this sound typical of Epidemic Kerato Conjunctivitis?
2. How long can this infection last?
3. Do you think there is a connection between flying on airplanes and EKC?
4. Could the eye virus have caused the sinus virus?
5. Is there a fair chance I will be able to wear my contacts again?
6. Should I be worried that my immune system isn't killing off this virus? I have had it over 3 months.
7. Should I be concerned about the itching this last time-- it had never occurred before.
8. Would you recommend any drops other than the Acular?
1. The sore thorat/sinus and then red eyes are extremely typical of EKC, both eyes and body are infected with adenovirus. If the ophthalmologist saw the characteristic sub-epitheal infiltrates on your cornea then the diagnosis is iron-clad.
2. If you have corneal infiltrates it can take as long as 3-6 months to clear and in some instances it can leave minute scars on the eye that are permanent.
3. No. But wearing contact lens on airplanes often makes the contacts irritate the eye or even scratch the cornea. The mechanism is the dry air in the airplane.
4. Yes, see 1 above.
5. Yes but you probably should go back in and discuss this with the Eye MD and have him/her look at your cornea. You may need to give the eye a rest from contacts for several weeks to months.
6. No, for reasons that are incompletely understood the eye continues to be irritated and the white spots under the outer layer of the cornea (subepethial infiltrates) persist long after the virus is killed.
7. It could be the reaction of the eye to contacts or to the Acular.
8. If you still have the infiltrates you might be a candidate for a short course of steroid drops to calm the eye down. It would be critical not to wear your contacts during that time as to do so would seriously increase the risk of bacterial, viral or fungal corneal ulceration.
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