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The medical name for what we call Apollo of the eye is Acute Haemorrhagic Conjunctivitis (AHC) and it is caused by the enterovirus 70. The Apollo name was coined from when an epidemic of the disease was first recognised in Ghana when the United States (US) launched the Apollo XI spacecraft. The Nigeria government blamed the space mission for the epidemic and actually sought compensation from the US for the suffering the illness caused. It was thought that the dust kicked up by the moon mission was responsible for the infection.

AHC is highly communicable and is transmitted from human to human when a person comes in contact with an infected person or things used by the infected person (mostly clothing: towels, handkerchiefs, etc.). It is common during the windy, dry season when the wind can carry dust and infected droplets about, spreading the infection.

The infection rate is so fast that a person with AHC in one eye can infect the other eye within days.


The symptoms manifest within a day or two of infection.

  • Frequent mucus discharge from the eyes
  • Painful red eyes
  • Excessive tearing
  • Eyelids sticking together
  • Light sensitivity
  • Sore eyes
  • Swelling of eyelids

Some people might also feel feverish or experience blurry vision.


There is currently no known cure for AHC, although the infection usually clears within a five- to seven-day period. It is best to have a medical check-up when you experience any of these symptoms, as these are also symptoms for many other ailments. Doctors might also give a prescription to help ease the discomfort. Avoid local home remedies like salt water or soap, these can damage the eye. Traditional remedies could also lead to permanent damage.


Apollo is prevented by observing basic health rules. It is also easily detected when one goes regularly for eye examinations.  Children are responsible for the quick spread of the infection, so once detected, a child should be quarantined (kept away from other children). Infected adults should stay away from other people and observe very strict hygiene rules to avoid spreading the infection.

While this ailment has a good prognosis, it can fail if mismanaged. Contact us for advice on Apollo prevention, care and how to take better care of your eyes.