Health experts insist that extra care and attention to the eyes are required during this time as people are battling not only intense heat waves but also the diseases that come with them as the mercury rises where few know that our eyes are one of the most commonly affected body parts during summers. The scorching heat of the sun is extremely harmful to the eyes and while conjunctivitis is the most common, our eyes may also have to deal with dry eyes, stye and eye allergies in the coming months.
Eye problems during summers
Exposure to the sun’s ultraviolet rays during the summer months can increase the risk of cataracts and retinal damage. In an interview with HT Lifestyle, Dr Asim Kumar Sil, Medical Director at Vivekananda Mission Asram Netra Niramay Niketan, shared, “Summer season and heat wave can also cause allergies in the eyes, ranging from mild itching and redness to severe watering and swelling of the eyelids. Infective conjunctivitis, specially viral is very common during this season. Cataracts, macular degeneration (a leading cause of blindness) and cancer, can all be caused by excessive heat exposure for long duration.”
He listed some of the other common eye problems during summers that include:
1. Viral conjunctivitis – During the summers, it is the most common eye problem. Redness, prickling, discharge, and watering of the eyes are all symptoms of this condition. In viral conjunctivitis, it is critical to adopt personal hygiene to avoid the spread of infection to others and the worsening of the eye condition. There are some ways to avoid this condition, such as practicing good hygiene and washing your hands and eyes with clean water. Because conjunctivitis is easily spread, don’t share handkerchiefs or towels, and limit your contact for the first few days. Only use antibiotic eye drops and ointments under the supervision of a doctor.
2. Stye – It is a bacterial infection that results in a small swelling on one or both eyelids. In the eye, there is pain, swelling, and redness. It’s a very common occurrence among children.
3. Dry eyes – Due to high temperatures, the use of fans, and air conditioning, the risk of dry eyes can increase during the summer. Redness in the eyes, sore and gritty eyes that are more watery than usual, and light sensitivity are all common symptoms, particularly affecting those exposed to more screen time.
4. Pterygium/Pinguecula – Sunlight can cause sunburn, but it can also cause a pterygium or a pinguecula if you don’t protect your eyes from harmful UV rays.
5. Eye allergies – During the summer, the eyes are extremely sensitive to the air. Eyes are prone to allergic reactions due to the heat and high levels of pollutants and/or irritants in the air. The most common symptoms are redness, itching, and a burning sensation. While these issues are usually short-lived, they can be extremely inconvenient and disrupt our daily routine.
Eye health tips to take care of your eyes during hot and humid weather
Dr Asim Kumar Sil, advised, “Taking care of your eyes in the summer is just as important as it is the rest of the year. You should still adhere to the same eye care guidelines, such as washing your hands before handling contact lenses and wearing the appropriate eyewear when participating in certain sports and activities. During the summer, it is critical to wear sunglasses to protect your eyes. Also, keep washing your eyes with cold water to keep them cool.”
According to Rishi Raj Borah, Country Director at Orbis India, as the schools re-open post the pandemic, eye examination must be considered as a mandate in school readiness. Studies show that the pandemic has increased the number of children who may be identified with myopia and those who have refractive error may further need correction.
In addition, he listed a few other things you can do to keep your eye healthy and safe:
1. Put on your sunglasses – Even when it’s cloudy outside, wearing sunglasses with UVA and UVB protection is essential. Even if your contact lenses have UV protection built-in, sunglasses are still recommended because they protect the surrounding eye area and act as a barrier between your eyes and the summer heat, preventing dry eye.
2. Get plenty of water – Dehydration is more likely to occur during the summer months, affecting your body’s ability to produce tears. This can cause dry eyes, so it’s critical to stay hydrated by drinking plenty of water.
3. Make use of eye drops – Lubricating eye drops can help if you have dry eyes as a result of the hot summer weather. These drops mimic natural tears and provide long-lasting hydration with fewer applications.
4. Limiting your exposure to allergens – While it’s impossible to avoid all allergens, especially those found outside, you can limit your exposure and protect your eyes from allergic reactions by taking precautions. Wearing sunglasses and washing your face as soon as you come in from outside can both help.
5. Allergy and rubbing the eyes – The main symptom of allergy is itch which compels a person to rub the eyes to get some relief. Rubbing releases some chemical agents that intensifies the itching sensation and thus induces a vicious cycle. Whenever any discomfort is felt it is better to gently wash the eyes with cold water than rubbing. Cold application reduces the release of chemical substances that are responsible for irritation.
6. Allergy and food – There is a myth around certain food like egg, prawns, eggplant etc. People think that consumption these food produces allergy. One person can be allergic to a particular food, not everybody.