Pink eye outbreak sends crowds to Hanoi hospital

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A pink eye disease outbreak has prompted throngs of worried families to crowd a Hanoi hospital over the last week.

Doctor Nguyen Hoang Cuong from the National Ophthalmology Hospital in Hanoi said on Monday that the outbreak was spreading.

The hospital was crowded with people waiting for pink eye examinations that day, and doctors said it had been that way for at least a week.

Nguyen Thi Hong Mai, a local Hanoian woman, said she took her sick 8-year-old son to the hospital early in the morning but he had to wait until noon to see a doctor.

Nguyen Dinh Tuan, a 26-year-old factory worker from nearby Hai Duong Province, said his colleagues began to get itchy and watery eyes three days ago and that the symptoms soon spread throughout the company, forcing many workers to take days off.

Doctor Cuong said the hospital has received more than 100 people for pink eye examinations every day, around 10 percent of all outpatients.

He said the viral disease always peaked in the humid climate of August, but that the problem would probably linger after that.

Many people have treated themselves at home with eye drops that actually only make things worse.

"We have received patients who treated themselves with eye drops with corticoid, which when not used at the right phase can reduce immunity and worsen the condition, leading to cornea damage, weaker eye sight, or even vision loss," Cuong said.

He said the virus can spread via the sick person's saliva.

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