Vietnam hospitals swamped with pinkeye

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Patients adults and children waiting for pinkeye examinations at the Ho Chi Minh City Eye Hospital last Saturday. Photo by Ha Minh

Hospitals in Vietnam have been overcrowded with pinkeye patients since the beginning of September.

Dr. Tran Hai Yen, deputy director of the Ho Chi Minh City Eye Hospital, said the number of pinkeye patients has been more than 30 percent higher than the rate normal over the last few days, not only at her hospital but at other eye hospitals and private clinics in the city.

The number of pinkeye patients has also increased in other southern Vietnamese localities including Dong Nai Province and Can Tho City. The number of pinkeye cases at the Can Tho Children's Hospital has totaled 30-50 per day this month, three to four times higher than previous months.

In Hanoi, Dr. Hoang Minh Anh from National Institute of Ophthalmology, said the institute has been treating 100-120 pinkeye patients a day on average, several times higher than five to six weeks earlier.

He said the patients are not only from the capital but also from nearby provinces such as Bac Ninh, Hai Duong and Hung Yen.

Dr. Doan Van Xiem, head of Quang Ngai General Hospital's ophthalmology department, was quoted by Tuoi Tre as saying Monday that the number of pinkeye cases last week was over 66 percent of the total eye cases, while the number was just 30 percent at the beginning of August.

Dr. Hong Van Hiep, head of the HCMC Medicine and Pharmacy University Hospital's Ophthalmology Department, said anyone with red eyes, swollen conjunctiva, eye watering, or severe eye discharge after sleeping should go to the hospital for examinations, especially if their relatives, friends or colleagues have pinkeye.

Dr. Nguyen Hoang Cuong from the National Institute of Ophthalmology said people should not use eye drops, especially those that contain corticosteroids used for anti-inflammatory purposes, without doctors' instructions. Corticosteroids can make the disease more serious and cause corneal inflammation and ulcers.

He said methods that involve steaming drugs and herbs should also not be used as this can burn corneas and prolong the disease.

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