How Air Pollution Affect Eyes during Festive Season- Expert Speak

It is the festive season when we see a significant rise in the number of people complaining about eye infections, allergies and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD). This is due to high pollution levels during the festive season.

Medical experts believe that air pollution is a result of rapid urbanisation and is linked to a wide array of health effects which include chronic and acute respiratory diseases, heart disease, asthma and stroke.

According to Dr Vasunethra Kasargod, consultant chest physician, Vikram Hospital Bengaluru, air pollution is one of the great killers of our age. As per the global burden of diseases study, polluted air was responsible in 2015 for 6.4 million deaths worldwide: 2.8 million from household air pollution and 4.2 million from ambient air pollution. These numbers are more than the fatalities caused by tuberculosis, AIDS and malaria combined.

If no immediate aggressive control measures are taken, air pollution is by 2060 to cause between 6 million and 9 million deaths per year by 2060. Air pollution is also linked to mental health conditions and degenerative brain diseases such as Alzheimer’s disease, Parkinson’s disease and schizophrenia, said Dr Kasargod.

Even ophthalmologists consider air pollution to be the cause of discomfort for those who wear contact lenses. Talking about the impact of air pollution, Dr Amod Nayak, regional head & medical services director, Dr Agarwal’s Eye Hospitals, Bengaluru, said that the air is a mixture of natural and man-made substances which affects humans, plants and animals.

‘’The eye is vulnerable to the effects of air pollution. Polluted air can increase risk of eye problems, ranging from simple irritation and burning to severe allergic conjunctivitis. The most common ones being redness, itching and burning sensation, watering eye, difficulty in vision, discharge, allergic reaction, including severe itching, eyelid swelling’’, he further added.

According to studies, high air pollution increases occurrences of dry eye syndrome. Wearing sunglasses, avoiding of vigorous eye rubbing in case of irritation and consumption of fluids to remain hydrated are the best ways to protect our eyes from air pollution.

Talking about how wearing the right eye lenses can be a remedy to prevent damage by air pollution,
Shashwat Kedia, founder, said, ‘’ On average a single soft contact lens should last a wearer approximately 18 months while a semi-soft lens can be safely worn for up to 30 months. However, with increased air pollution during festivals like Diwali, such lenses can be safe to be worn only for 8 months. Here medical experts see a concern as wearing lenses in a polluted environment can lead to irreparable damage to the eyes’’.

Dr Sameer Kaushal, senior consultant opthalmologist, Tattvan eclinics stated that as cities record a dip in the quality of air it is advised for the contact lens users to remove the lenses immediately lest it would result in dry eyes.

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