29 March 2010
By Devparna Acharya
With the mercury rising, doctors are seeing an increase in eye allergies and infections. Eyes normally take a lot of strain, but at this time of the year, exposure to excessive heat along with dust and pollution, makes them more susceptible to allergies.
“Eye allergies tend to flare up during summer. During the winter to summer transition period, pollen is released into the air, which causes allergies,” says Dr N Radhika, senior consultant, Shankar Nethralaya. This allergy is known as allergic conjunctivitis or spring catarrh, and is caused by an increase in temperature and dust. “Children are usually affected by this,” she adds.
Dharini Ramaswamy, a college student, says she always has an eye problem in the summer. “I get this itchy feeling in my eye. It is irritating and no eye drops seem to work,” she says. She’s not the only one complaining. Ophthalmologists confirmed that they get at least two or more patients a day who complain of simple heat-related eye allergies. Problems like dryness in the eye, itching, discharge and redness are usually side effects of the excessive heat.
“India is a tropical country and Chennai is one of the hottest cities, so it is hard to avoid such conditions,” says Dr Amar Agarwal, chairman and managing director of Dr Agarwal group of eye hospitals. He then cites the good old adage: prevention is better than cure.
And prevention is fairly simple — invest in a good pair of sunglasses that filters out ultra-violet rays. “There is lot of dust during summer and the sun’s rays are fierce, so one needs to shield one’s eyes. Good shades help in cooling your eyes,” says Dr Agarwal.
If a dust particle enters the eyes, it shouldn’t be rubbed in. “Instead, take a tumbler of water, fill it to the brim, bring it close to your eyes and blink into it,” says Dr Agarwal.
Ophthalmologists say tear substitutes are a good way to keep eyes healthy. “Lubricating eye drops are available over the counter, but it is always safer to consult an ophthalmologist before using these drops. They are sterile water and are safer than tap water,” says Dr Radhika.
Other ways to reduce eye irritation are increased blinking of the eye and using cold compresses at night. “Consult an ophthalmologist if the problems persist. Most importantly, avoid self medication,” says Dr Radhika.
Keep an eye on
What is spring catarhh or allergic conjunctivitis:
Spring Catarrh is an eye infection that occurs in male children usually between ages 4 to 10. It is a non-contagious inflammation of conjunctiva.
This condition arises in hot weather and is related to pollen exposure. It’s recurrent and affects both the eyes
Symptoms are as following:
- Intense itching
- Fluid discharge from eyes
- Redness & soreness
- Dryness in the eyes
- Use good shades that filter the harmful ultraviolet rays
- Tear substitutes: lubricating substitutes which help in preventing drying up of eyes
- Cold eye compresses at night