Excessive heat can harm your eyes: says the doctor

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·         Summers and the high heat bring in a wide range of ocular conditions

·         These conditions are: allergies, infections such as conjunctivitis and stye, dry eye and pterygium

·         One must take all precautions as advised by a specialist and not take summers lightly

New Delhi, 10th May 2022: The summers have truly arrived and the temperature is repeatedly clocking above normal levels with punishing heatwaves already seen across the country. While many people know the importance of protecting their skin from extreme heat, not many people are aware that excessive heat can also take a toll on people’s eyes too. So, this is just the time when people must take care of their ocular health too.

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Moreover, when high temperature combines with humidity and pollution levels, this can lead to a range of eye conditions. Once common eye problem observed is allergies during summers. One can develop allergies when eyes are exposed to heat along with high levels of pollutants and irritants in the air. The symptoms could range from itchiness to redness of the eyes to experiencing of burning sensation in the eyes. Another eye problem that arises due to excessive heat in the summers is dry eye. This happens especially due to the reduced capacity of the tear ducts to produce sufficient tears necessary for lubrication of the eyes. And this in turn is due to inordinately faster evaporation of tear film stemming from high temperature conditions. For dry eye, the symptoms could range from feeling of a burning sensation, high sensitivity to light, itchiness, redness, eye fatigue and watering of the eyes.

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Another high temperature-related eye condition often seen in the summers is bacterial and viral infections that people often catch. And the most common of which is conjunctivitis the origin for which could be viral, bacterial or fungal. Also called pink eye, it involves inflammation of the outer layers of the eye, feeling of having foreign body in the eye and irritation, redness and discharge. It is highly contagious. Notably, conjunctivitis could also be of an allergic type originating due to pollen, dust and other irritants.  Another eye infection which is common in the summers is stye. This is a bacterial infection and leads to swelling of eyelids due to contamination. Its symptoms include pain, redness and swelling. Then another serious eye condition that often occurs in the summers is pterygium. It is a result of unprotected exposure of the eyes to harmful ultra-violet A and B rays of the sun. In this, there is growth of fleshy tissue on part of the cornea blocking and effecting vision.

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“Summers are just the time when we need to be extremely careful with our eyes. The continuously high temperature in the atmosphere coupled with high levels of pollutants, dust and other allergens such as pollen, weeds and moulds can gravely impact our eye health. While conditions such as allergies, infections, dry eye and occasional exposure to ultra violet rays may seem common and harmless, there is always a possibility of – unless taken timely medical advice and followed as such – these common conditions worsening with long-term implications for the eyes,” said Dr Tushar Grover, Medical Director, Vision Eye Centre, New Delhi.

“Therefore, as summers descend upon us, we must take a large number of precautions to keep our eyes protected as well as functionally normal. For instance, keeping oneself sufficiently hydrated is very important. While one should avoid prolonged stay out in the heat, if necessary, one should always step out wearing the right and protective sunglasses. Also, one should avoid direct eye contact with the sun. If one is indoors and engaging in any activity such as working on a computer or looking at any digital screen for long, taking of periodic breaks is a must. Due to the discomfort from heat, one should not sit directly in front of the fan or air conditioning systems since it may lead to dryness of eyes. At the same time those having dry eyes can benefit from frequent application of artificial tear supplement drops after consultation with their eye doctor. Due to high temperature, when people tend to swim outdoors in a pool or even a natural water body such as a river, they must wear proper goggles to rule out contamination and infections. They should also avoid sharing personal effects such as towels and cosmetics items. Further, one should never rub eyes directly in case of any uneasiness and feeling of irritation. In fact, one should also keep hands clean in order to avoid infecting our eyes with foreign material. And those wearing glasses and lenses must keep their eyewear clean all the time. Most importantly, on the slightest hint of an aggravated eye condition, one must approach an eye expert immediately and not engage in any self-medication,” further said Dr Grover.