Guard your eyes from nasty infections during summer and monsoon

Until two months back, fearing COVID-19 outbreak, stepping out of home and travel was on hold for most of us. As restrictions ease, we are not just desperate to go out, but are eager to meet our friends and resume our normal life. In fact, after being locked up at home for a couple of days, we are now ready to hit the road.

While it’s a known fact that sweltering heat during summer, and humidity during monsoon can spoil your skin, did you know it can have an adverse effect on your eyes as well? And, mind you, it’s not just the heat waves that can cause discomfort to your eyes, for the direct contact between the eyes and rain water too can cause many types of eye infections.

In fact, each time you step out in the sun or rain and that too without any kind of eye protection, you become more prone to eye infection. For instance, too much ultraviolet rays can accelerate the formation of Cataracts in summer. Also, it can cause or aggravate the problem of Dry Eye. Similarly, rain and humidity during monsoon months can cause eye infections such as Conjunctivitis and Stye.
Even ophthalmologists claim that the number of eye patients substantially increases with the onset of summer and monsoon season.
Let’s take a look at various eye problems and infections that you should be careful about during sweltering heat and rain:

Conjunctivitis: This is one of the most common eye problems encountered during monsoon season. It spreads if one comes in contact with a person who has conjunctivitis. The condition is caused due to virus or bacteria, but it can also be caused due to expired eye cosmetics, contact lens cleaning solutions, bleach in swimming pools, etc.
Conjunctivitis generally spreads by a touch (direct or indirect), therefore, make sure you do not share towels, napkins, handkerchiefs, pillow covers, etc., with the patient. So, if you have pink eyes, do not panic. Seek a proper treatment by an eye specialist and maintain personal hygiene like washing hands frequently.

Dry Eye: Come summer and most of us spend our time in an air conditioned environment – be it home, office or car. But temperature changed due to AC is said to be a leading cause of Dry Eye Syndrome. As a result individuals may feel grittiness, irritation, pain, redness or watery eyes. Basically in an air conditioned room there is a loss of humidity, so the air becomes extremely dry, causing evaporation from the watery layer of tear film, causing evaporative dry eyes. And, without lubrication, eyes are more prone to infection or inflammation.
However, Dry Eye can also be caused due to other factors such as Diabetes, Thyroid, Vitamin A deficiency, Rheumatoid Arthritis, Tear Gland Damage, etc.
Whatever may be the cause, studies reveal that environmental factors, such as weather, trigger allergies and can play a crucial role in increasing the risk of these conditions.
                Timely diagnosis and treatment of Dry Eye Syndrome is very important as otherwise patients might develop corneal surface disorders such as abrasion, corneal ulcer or severe eye problems. Besides, it can have a severe impact on a patient’s quality of life as those living with dry eye disease find it difficult to read or use a digital screen for prolonged hours.

Stye : Stye is usually caused due to clogged oil gland and bacteria which live on the skin surface of the eyelid. It can cause swelling in one or both eyelids, redness and is a painful condition. The easiest way to prevent Stye is by maintaining eye hygiene. Gently exfoliate the eyelids or gently rub the eyelids to get rid of dead cells. Besides, avoid using expired cosmetics, dirty towels and contaminated hands.

Digital Eye Strain: Summer for children means summer holidays, summer camps and unlimited access to digital devices. However, nationwide lockdown due to COVID-19 outbreak has left kids with very limited choices.
Though online classes, video chats with friends, gaming and watching TV shows has become a new norm for kids, prolonged use of digital devices has also increased their screen time which has given rise to the problem of digital eye strain. The condition causes dryness, irritation and redness of eyes, etc.
While such activities cannot be omitted totally, parents should ensure their children give break to eyes after 20-30 minutes by palming or looking at a distant object or take a 10-minute break from the screen after one hour of use. Also, they should make sure they maintain a distance of at least a foot away from the gadget when sitting straight, spend limited time and have adequate sleep. But in case any kind of eye problem persists, get your child’s eyes examined.
Though damage to your eyes can happen any time of the year and not just in the summer or monsoon, therefore, it is advisable to follow these tips to protect your eyes all year long:

  • Wear sunglasses labeled “100% UV protected” only, while you step out.
  • Clouds don’t block UV light. The sun’s rays can pass through haze and clouds, so keep your shades handy all the time.
  • Always wash your eyes with cold water whenever you return from an outing during monsoon.
  • Never keep the contact lenses out in the open and make sure to clean the cases frequently.
  • Wear a hat or carry an umbrella to provide an extra layer of protection to your eyes.
  • During summer, if your eyes feel tired or excessively dry, use a cool eye mask for some relief.
  • Never look directly at the sun.
  • Avoid using any cosmetic products during eye infection, especially during monsoon season.
  • Severe dehydration makes it harder for the body to produce tears, leading to dry eye syndrome and other vision problems. Drinking plenty of water each day can prevent and reverse many of the negative effects of dehydration.
  • It is vital to protect your eyes from rain splashes as they bring dirtiness that is harmful to our eyes.
  • If you get caught in a dust storm, make sure to rinse your eyes immediately. Debris in the eye can lead to various infections and can irritate the eye in general.
  • Most importantly, in case of an eye problem or infection, get your eyes checked by a certified ophthalmologist only.

Dr. Manoj Gupta, Senior Consultant, Sharp Sight, Delhi.