As large parts of India experience extreme temperatures, experts have sounded the alarm over eye infections the ongoing heat wave could bring. Infections caused by exposure to high temperatures range from mild itching and redness to conjunctivitis, styes and an increased risk of cataracts due to unprotected exposure to the sun’s ultraviolet rays.
Besides the heat, the high levels of pollutants and irritants in the air also pose a challenge. Symptoms may include itching, red eyes, or a burning sensation.
Here you will learn about the various conditions that unprotected exposure to extreme temperatures can cause and the precautions to take.
How can the heatwave affect your eyes?
Dr. Chikirsha Jain, senior consultant at Ujala Cygnus Rainbow Hospital in Agra, told PTI: “Our eyes get sensitive during the summer so it is essential to protect them. Even if you wear contact lenses, wearing glasses can protect your eyes.”
In case one does not use proper eye protection, they can also develop dry eyes as the tear film in the eye can evaporate faster. If left untreated, the disease can lead to eye inflammation.
Dr Rishi Raj Borah, Country Director of Orbis India, said: “Exposure to ultraviolet rays from the sun during the summer months can increase the risk of various eye conditions, reiterating the imperative of eye exams regular. As schools have now reopened, the eye exam should be seen as a school readiness mandate.
“Studies show that the pandemic has increased the number of children who can be identified as myopic and those with refractive error may still need correction.”
What are the health risks associated with the heat wave?
Dr. Tushar Grover, Medical Director of the Delhi-based Vision Eye Centre, told PTI: “Allergies, infections such as conjunctivitis and dry eye are among the conditions. worsen if timely medical advice is not provided.
Some common conditions caused by extreme temperatures are –
Conjunctivitis, commonly known as “pink eye,” is an infection or swelling of the thin, clear membrane that lines the inner surface of your eyelid and covers the white part of your eye, according to Healthline. Its symptoms are pink or red eyes, a watery or thick discharge that collects on your eyes at night, itching, and an abnormal amount of tearing.
Stye is a bacterial infection that causes mild swelling on one or both eyelids, according to the Milauskas Eye Institute. It involves pain, swelling and redness, and is common in children.
dry eyes is a condition in which tears are unable to lubricate the eyes. At high temperatures, the tear film in the eyes can evaporate too soon because the eye can become red and irritated with a burning sensation, according to the Milauskas Institute.
Besides these common conditions, extreme temperatures can also cause serious damage.
Dr Sanjay Dhawan of Max Healthcare told The Times of India: “Exposure to accumulated heat can also lead to eye burns, cataracts, macular degeneration, a leading cause of blindness, cancer and pterygium, fleshy growth of the cornea. It can also produce an adaptation, papillary reflex and shading of the eyes.”
How do you protect your eyes from these conditions?
General summer wellness advice is a must – stay hydrated, maintain face and hand hygiene, wear goggles outside, avoid sharing towels or cosmetics, do not rub or touch your eyes, etc.
You should also be careful with your glasses and you can wear them in the sun even if you use contact lenses. A report from The Times of India noted: “Gray colored lenses reduce light intensity without altering the color of objects, providing the most natural color vision. See a lens of sunglasses on how much UV radiation it gets. ‘it absorbs.’
You should consult a healthcare practitioner if you experience any of the symptoms or conditions listed above or any discomfort regarding your eyes.
(With PTI inputs)