Suffering from dry eye syndrome? Blame it on polluted Delhi air
Suffering from dry eye syndrome? Blame it on polluted Delhi air
Nishi Bhat
Suffering from dry eye syndrome? Blame it on polluted Delhi air
Photo: Samrat Roy

Suffering from dry eye syndrome? Blame it on polluted Delhi air

With the spike in air pollution in Delhi many residents are complaining of dry eyes syndrome, a condition in which a person doesn't have adequate quality tears to lubricate and nourish his/her eyes. The is a common occurrence and often turns chronic, particularly among senior citizens. 

According to a study, India is on the verge of a dry eye epidemic. By 2030, around 40 percent of India's urban population will have this condition. 

Since the disease tends to progress with age, it can lead to visual impairment and even blindness once corneal damage becomes irreversible. Early diagnosis and treatment is therefore important.

A study has found that the onset of dry eye syndrome is early in men compared to women. In men, the disease occurs in 20s and 30s compared to 50s and 60s in women.  Hormonal imbalance can be a a cause for late onset of the disease in women. 

Speaking about the condition, Padma Shri Awardee Dr K K Aggarwal, president, Heart Care Foundation of India (HCFI), said, "Apart from age related factors, expanding areas of arid land, air pollution and greater exposure to ultraviolet (UV) radiation all affect eyes. The cornea, eyelid, the sclera and even the lens are all directly exposed to the environment. Rising temperatures and shifting atmospheric circulation patterns force dry air into the regions. Dry air means more people are likely to suffer from dry eye. There is no evidence to suggest that drier conditions cause dry eye, but they can accelerate symptoms in people who are prone to dry eye. Air pollution has long been linked to respiratory disorders; more recently it’s been shown to play a role in eye disease.”

Recurrent infections over a lifetime lead to scarring inside the eyelids, which in turn causes the eyelashes to turn inward and brush against the cornea eventually resulting in damage that impairs vision.

Dr Aggarwal, who is also group editor-in-chief of  Indian Journal of Cardiac and Pulmonary (IJCP), said, “Eye exercises may not improve or preserve vision, help eye health, or reduce the need for glasses. Our vision depends on factors such as the shape of our eyeball and the health of the eye tissues. Neither of these can be altered greatly by eye exercises.”

Using a computer does not affect eye health. However, staring at a computer screen all day can contribute to eye strain or tired eyes. People who stare at a computer screen for long periods tend not to blink as often as usual, which can cause the eyes to feel dry and uncomfortable. 

To help prevent eye strain, adjust the lighting so it doesn’t create a glare or harsh reflection on the screen, rest your eyes briefly every 20 minutes and make a conscious effort to blink regularly so that your eyes stay well lubricated.

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