'Eye conditions like conjunctivitis are directly linked to air pollution': Dr Ketan Patel

Wear good protective eyewear, especially in bright sunlight and windy conditions


Interview/ Dr Ketan Patel, ophthalmologist, Bhailal Amin General Hospital, Vadodara

What are the air pollutants that cause the greatest harm to the eyes?

Air pollutants that pose the greatest harm to the eyes include carbon particles, particulate matter, nitrogen dioxide, sulphur dioxide and ozone. These pollutants can lead to the accumulation of particles in the eyes, leading to inflammation, redness, irritation, watering (epiphora) and chronic dryness.

What are some of the eye conditions that have a direct link to air pollution?

Several eye conditions are directly linked to air pollution. These include conjunctivitis, both allergic and non-allergic, as well as chronic dry eye syndrome. These problems can in turn exacerbate other eye problems like red eyes and photophobia (sensitivity to light).

Does pollution also impact eyesight?

Yes, pollution can impact eyesight, primarily through its effects on the tear film. The tear film is essential for maintaining a clear vision by lubricating the eyes and protecting the cornea. Disruption or instability of the tear film due to pollution-induced dry eye syndrome can result in visual disabilities such as photophobia in daylight and increased glare at night.

Could you share some tips for taking care of the eyes, given that pollution is omnipresent?

* Wear good protective eyewear, such as correctly fitting goggles, especially in bright sunlight and windy conditions.

* Use helmets while driving scooters and bikes to protect eyes from dust and pollutants.

* Use lubricating eye drops to alleviate dryness and irritation caused by pollution, in consultation with your doctor.

* Maintain overall health through proper nutrition and hydration to support eye function and build resilience against pollution.

Are certain people more prone to the ill effects of air pollution on eyes?

Certain demographic groups are more prone to the ill effects of air pollution on the eyes. These include older individuals who naturally have less tear film production, which is also an issue with menopausal women. Also at greater risk are individuals with specific dry eye disorders like Sjogren's syndrome (a disorder of the immune system) and thyrotoxicosis (abnormally high levels of circulating thyroid hormones) with exophthalmos, which is characterised by wide-open, bulging and protruding eyes.