Air pollution may lead to eye problems too

Health Care, Heart Care Foundation of India, Medicine Comments Off

Corneal damage can be irreversible and cause blindness

New Delhi, 21 March 2019: With a large ageing population, growing middle-class and chronic nature of the disease, India is on the verge of a dry eye disease epidemic, says the study. The prevalence of dry eye disease will be in about 40% of the urban population by 2030. Since the disease tends to be progressive with age, once corneal damage becomes irreversible it can lead to visual impairment and even blindness. Early diagnosis and treatment is therefore important.

A study has found that the onset of dry eye disease is early in men than in women. In men, the age of disease onset is early 20s and 30s compared with 50s and 60s in women. Hormonal imbalance could be a likely reason for higher cases in women in their 50s and 60s.

Speaking about this, Padma Shri Awardee, Dr K K Aggarwal, President, HCFI, said, “Apart from the deterioration of eye health due to certain conditions, expanding areas of arid land, air pollution and greater exposure to ultraviolet (UV) radiation all present potential health hazards to the eyes. The cornea, eyelid, the sclera and even the lens—are all exposed directly to the environment. Rising temperatures and shifting atmospheric circulation patterns force dry air into regions. Drier air means that more people are likely to suffer from dry eye, a condition in which tears aren’t produced properly or evaporate too quickly. There is no evidence that drier conditions cause dry eye, but they can accelerate symptoms in people who are prone to dry eye. Air pollution has long been linked to respiratory disorders; more recently it’s been shown to play a role in eye disease.”

Recurrent infections over a lifetime lead to scarring inside of the eyelids, which in turn causes the eyelashes to turn inward and brush against the cornea, eventually resulting in damage that impairs vision.

Adding further, Dr Aggarwal, who is also the Group Editor-in-Chief of IJCP, said, “Eye exercises may not improve or preserve vision, help eye health, or reduce the need for glasses. Our vision depends factors such as the shape of our eyeball and the health of the eye tissues. Neither of these can be altered greatly by eye exercises.”

Using a computer does not affect eye health. However, staring at a computer screen all day can contribute to eyestrain or tired eyes. People who stare at a computer screen for long periods tend not to blink as often as usual, which can cause the eyes to feel dry and uncomfortable. To help prevent eyestrain, adjust the lighting so it doesn’t create a glare or harsh reflection on the screen, rest your eyes briefly every 20 minutes, and make a conscious effort to blink regularly so that your eyes stay well lubricated.