With temperatures breaking its 122-year-old record, India is witnessing one of its hottest summer. According to India Meteorological Department (IMD), the impact of this dry and arid weather will continue through the next few months of summer all over India and one needs to gear up to negate the harmful effects of this weather on our body. Surprisingly, we all have been trained to protect ourselves from sun and heat using the best available SPF sunscreen lotions, fanciest scarves and hats, best cooling air conditioners and coolers, all the while neglecting one of the most sensitive organ of our body, that is our eyes. Our eyes are equally susceptible to summer and heat damage as our skin and rest of the body is, and hence it is needed to consider summer eye care as an important aspect of our health and beauty regimen.
Warm and dry weather increases tear evaporation rate, leading to unstable tear film. Failure to blink regularly while staring at computer or mobile screens for prolonged period, chlorine exposure from swimming pool water, dust particles in the air, hot outdoor winds and indoor air conditioned (AC) environment further worsens the situation. Dry eye disease usually manifests as stinging, burning and irritation in eyes, intermittent blurring of vision, mild redness of eyes. Paradoxically reflex watering can also occur in dry eye disease and treating the cause of dryness is important to prevent such symptoms.
Change in weather usually aggravates all forms of allergies in spring and summer. Some of these allergic reactions affect our eyes too because of temperature change, dust, pollen grains and particulate and non-particulate pollution. Allergic eye conditions usually manifest as redness, itching, irritation, burning sensation of eyes.
Harsh sunlight increases the UV exposure to skin as well as eyes. Prolonged UV exposure can lead to conditions like photo-keratitis and photo-conjunctivitis. Long-term exposure to UV light has been implicated in various eye diseases like pterygium, increased risk of developing cataract and even eyelid cancers.
Conjunctivitis, also known as pink eye, is the inflammation of white portion of eye (conjunctiva) either due to virus or bacteria. Increase in cases of conjunctivitis is typically seen in summer season. It presents as redness of eyes with pricking sensation, sticky discharge and watering. Conjunctivitis can spread through contact or sharing objects like handkerchief with an infected person.
Stye is a red, painful swelling on the outside edge of the eyelids. Styes are very common in children. It is usually caused by bacterial infection of glands present on eyelid. It can be easily treated with the help of warm compress and oral medications prescribed by an ophthalmologist.
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They help in preventing evaporation of tear film and reducing symptom of dry eyes and allergic eye diseases. Hats additionally aid in protecting skin from UV exposure.
Various allergies and infections are increasingly seen in summer. Especially with increased outdoor activities in children in summer holidays, it is vital to keep washing hands and face frequently to prevent these eye diseases.
High amount of chlorine is present in swimming pool water. So while we all enjoy our pool time in summer, its important to protect our eyes from harmful effects of chlorine by using protective goggles.
Keeping eyes lubricated can help with dry eyes and eye irritation in summer. People who have dry eye symptoms should visit their eye specialist to get a proper prescription after thorough eye examination.
Drinking plenty of water helps in preventing dehydration during summers. Fruits and vegetables with high antioxidants and carotenoids content like berries, orange, papaya, carrots etc. help in preventing oxidative damage caused by UV rays and maintaining healthy eyes.