Ophthalmologists in Delhi are observing a sharp rise in the number of patients suffering from eye problems like allergy, burning of eyes and itching due to high levels of pollution in the capital. Air quality across Delhi continued to be in the ‘very poor’ category with AQI at 324.
“With severe air quality and high level of pollution in Delhi-NCR, we are observing an increase in number of patients coming to us with complaints of redness, Itching, and watering in the eyes,” said Dr Ikeda Lal, Cornea and Refractive Surgery Specialist, at Delhi Eye Centre and Sir Ganga Ram Hospital New Delhi.
“Patients with pre-existing dry eyes are experiencing exacerbation due to high pollution. We are observing an almost 40 percent rise in the number of patients coming to us with eye related problems,” he added.
Dr Lal explained that pollutants and dust in the air is one of the major reasons for causing eye allergy and eye related problems. Delhi has been witnessing a steep increase in AQI levels after a marginal improvement on Sunday.
The city’s AQI stood at 348 at 4 pm on Monday, deteriorating from 301 on Sunday. The increase in AQI levels comes after the Centre on Saturday had removed stringent curbs, including a ban on construction work related to linear projects and the entry of polluting trucks, in Delhi following a drop in pollution levels due to favourable wind speed and direction.
“The increase in the incidence of dry eye and ocular allergy is causing discomfort even in normal eyes. It aggravates the eye complaints in eyes that are prone to dryness and allergies. If care is not taken immediately, some of these eyes can have reduced vision due to this problem as well,” said Dr Rajesh Sinha, Professor of Ophthalmology at RP Centre AIIMS New Delhi.
While lubricating eye drops and the use of sunglasses are helpful options, contact lenses and eye makeup should be avoided until the eyes are healed completely, Dr Lal said.
Doctors advised to not rub eyes if they itch, wash eyes with clean water; repeat if it still feels uncomfortable. They suggested that cold compresses can help relieve mild itching and to see an eye doctor as soon as possible and avoid prolonged exposure of eyes to pollution.