In an exclusive conversation with The Daily Guardian, Dr Jeevan Singh Titiyal, Padma Sri awardee and the Head of the Department of Ophthalmology at AIIMS, talked about post-Covid eye infections, irrational use of steroids, and the importance of following the Covid-19 protocols. Excerpts:

Q. It is widely observed that Covid-19 patients are having major eye problems. How many such cases have you treated in recent times?

A. Indeed it’s true. Lot of people have suffered such issues with their eyes. In 15-30% cases we have observed that during treatment of Covid-19, patients’ eyes gets infected, which is known as conjunctivitis and eye flue.

Symptoms like dryness and red eyes are very common, and these are not serious issues during post Covid-19 treatment. We suggest such patients to use simple artificial tears and to wash their eyes regularly. Taking too much steroids during treatment is not a safe option, though it is prescribed. It can have drastic effects.

Q. Which steroids can have severe side effects?

A. Two kind of steroids are prescribed to Covid-19 patients. For minor patients, systematic tablets are prescribed which are not dangerous and have fewer side effects. While in acute phase when patients suffer from cytokine storm, highly potent steroids are injected intravenously.

Patients who are down with with comorbidities, and are getting strong steroids, are vulnerable to myriad infections. Steroids can increase their blood pressure and can block nerves and veins.

Q. How many such cases you have witnessed?

A. People who are diabetic and taking steroids are prone to have eye problems. Ten to fourteen percent of such cases can have such problems. I would advise patients to consult good doctors and follow the prescriptions instead of panicking.

Q. What are the ways by which cancer and diabetic patients can stay safe post the Covid-19 infection?

A. Unnecessary use of steroids should be avoided at any cost. Patients should only take steroids when doctors prescribe them. Patients must monitor their sugar level to stay safe post-Covid period. People must maintain hygiene environment and stay neat and clean.

Q. What are the chances of people losing their eye sight during post-Covid period?

A. Chances are bleak, but in grave situations patients must consult doctors immediately. During the post-Covid period, people will have to stay very conscious and must consult with doctors.

Q. How can we actually explain the post-Covid phase?

A. There are lots of people who have recovered from Covid-19 and there are chances to contract infections. The kind of steroids and with significant rate people are having, huge possibilities are there for different organs to suffer several issues. People may have to stay with oxygen support for longer period. Cardio issues, and issues related to blood flow might prevail. Every tenth person in our country is suffering from diabetes, it might get serious in coming days.

Q. What is the cure for such people?

A. People having lung infection should wear mask all the time, should refrain themselves from going to crowded places. People will have to take extra precaution in future to prevent contracting infections.

Q. When do you think we will be able to overpower these diseases? Or we will have to live with it?

A. Victory can be achieved in different ways, if we can’t kill it, we can at least control It., People must follow Covid-19 guidelines properly, and should wear mask all the time. Vaccination is vital.