FINALLY THE RAIN GODS RELENTED. While the weather has turned pleasant, there is also a downside to it.
Eye infections increase in these wet months. Monsoons can bring with them various viral & bacterial infections due to increased moisture in the air. Hence, extra eye care becomes important, especially in diabetics.
Common problems encountered during this season include conjunctivitis, stye, meibomitis, dry eyes and corneal ulcers. Most of these can be avoided by taking certain precautions regarding ocular hygiene and good control of diabetes. Uncontrolled or fluctuating levels of blood sugar put a person at more risk of developing infections. Frequent touching of ocular surface with unwashed hands is the main source of infection.
Following are the common problems and precautions to avoid them:
Dry eye: Dryness of eye is again a common problem, aggravated due to increased use of computers, smartphones, air-conditioned indoors. Person experiences discomfort, burning sensation, grittiness & even blurred vision due to dry eye. Besides ocular hygiene, frequent blinking of eyes, looking away from TV/computer screen every few minutes & use of tear substitutes provides relief.
Corneal ulcer: It is a severe form of eye infection due to viral, bacterial or fungal infection. Uncontrolled diabetes may lead to corneal involvement and ulcer formation. If not controlled, it may result in blindness. Good control of blood sugar, ocular hygiene, proper cleansing of contact lenses by contact lens users can help in its prevention.
Conjunctivitis is the most common eye infection during these wet months. The surface of the white of the eye and the back surface of eyelids is covered by a thin protective membrane called conjunctiva. Inflammation and redness of this membrane is called conjunctivitis. Conjunctivitis is caused by viral or bacterial infection. It can be a result of allergy to dust, pollen, medicines, cosmetics or contact lenses. The chlorinated water of swimming pool can also cause inflammation in the conjunctiva. Conjunctivitis doesn’t spread by looking in the eyes of the infected person. Wearing dark glasses helps as it keeps your eyes cool& shielded. To avoid conjunctivitis, maintain strict personal hygiene as well as avoid sharing of items of personal use, like towels, handkerchiefs etc.
Treatment plan:At the first instance of the watering of eyes, you should consult an ophthalmologist. If you are a contact lens user, discontinue wearing them immediately. Your doctor may prescribe antibiotic eye drops. Use them as directed and stay at home to take rest. This way, you will recover faster and not spread the infection to others.
Stye is an infection in the eyelid which looks like a pimple. It occurs when the oil gland in the eyelid gets infected. This painful little bump is a limiting condition which ruptures on its own. Avoid popping a stye. Styes are caused by staphylococcal bacteria found in the nose. When you touch your nose and then your eyes, you are at risk of contracting a stye.
Treatment plan: Warm water compress works as an effective home remedy for relieving the pain and inflammation of stye. However, if the stye happens regularly, get in touch with an ophthalmologist, as severe cases may need antibiotic therapy.
Corneal ulcer is a severe eye infection. It occurs as a red, painful eye, with mild to severe discharge and reduced vision. The condition results from a localized infection of the cornea, similar to an abscess.Most cases of corneal ulcers are due to a bacterial or fungal infection that invades the cornea — often following eye injury, trauma or other damage. There have been instances when splashing of the mucky water from the puddles in the eyes has caused infection surrounding the cornea. Contact lens users are particularly susceptible to a corneal ulcer.
Treatment Plan:An ophthalmologist will diagnose corneal ulcer. Early diagnosis and treatment is crucial such cases. Corneal ulcer may lead to vision loss or blindness. Hence, there is a need for aggressive treatment plan. Treatment usually involves antibiotics as well as antiviral or antifungal medications. Your doctor may prescribe steroid eye drops to reduce inflammation of the eye. Do not self-medicate yourself under any circumstance with steroid eye drops as it can have devastating effect on your eyes and result in corneal melting or loss of vision. In severe cases, patients are hospitalized so that the correct treatment is given. If infections are stubborn or leave a scar, a corneal transplant may be needed to restore vision.
Watch out for any such symptoms of eye infection, this monsoon and get in touch with your ophthalmologist if you experience any discomfort in your eyes. After all, your eyes deserve the best.
TIPS FOR EYE CARE DURING RAINS
With rains come puddles of dirty water and eye infections soar. But, with a bit of prevention, you could stay safe, as the mercury relents. Centre for Sight keeps you up to date on effective eye care tips:
- Eyes wide shut: Close your eyes when you decide to get soaked in the rain as it screens off atmospheric pollutants. While the rain water is reasonably clean but you need to be wary of the rain water if you stand under a tree or a building, as it can be contaminated with pollutants, which could increase eye infections. Rain water can also strip away tear glands which could make your eyes dry.
- Stay out of wind: Wear light colored sunglasses if you have to go out during the day to keep your eyes protected. Contact lens wearers should diligently follow the rule, or they risk their contacts getting blown away in the wind.
3.Avoid splash: Splashing sounds fun, reminds of the good old childhood days. But, splash contains muck and if it gets accidentally in your eyes, wash it off immediately with plain water and dry your eyes. If you are not carrying water with you then buy a water bottle immediately to clean your eyes, as mucky water carries a lot of bacteria, which can infect your eyes.Monsoon is also not the time when you should take a dip in the pool, as it can result in eye infections.
4.Emphasize on hygienic practices: During monsoon, eye infections like conjunctivitis and stye are on the rise. The infection is contagious and can be easily transmitted via towels, handkerchiefs, lenses, glasses and other articles handled during the course of daily activities. To avoid infection, you need to ensure that you do not share articles of personal use with anyone else. Eye infections result in redness of eyes and watery discharge. Use antibiotic eye drops to treat eye infections, only after it has been prescribed by an ophthalmologist. Avoid lenses when you contract an eye infection.
- Do not rub your eyes:Refrain from rubbing your eyes when they itch. Stye, an infection of the glands of the eyelids is also usually caused by frequent rubbing of eyes with unwashed or dirty hands.
As a general rule, avoid exposing your eyes to rain water and wash your hands, face and feet well after you have braved the monsoon. Follow these tips to breeze through monsoon.
Special Prevention tips for diabetics. Do not neglect the eye care during monsoon season:
- Frequent washing of hands & eyes is recommended. Avoid unnecessary touching of the eyes.
- Do not share personal items including cosmetics with others. Contact lens users should pay extra attention.
- Visit a qualified ophthalmologist in case of any eye problem. Do not ignore a red eye.
- Do not do self medication or buy over the counter eye drops, they may contain steroids which may worsen the eye infection.
- Keep sugar levels in good control & maintain a healthy diet.
A little extra care can go a long way toward away serious problems, especially in a diabetic. Keep this in mind and enjoy the showers of monsoon.
Proper eye care should become a priority during monsoons to help protect from infections like conjunctivitis, stye, dry eyes and corneal ulcers which can lead to blindness.
By: Dr. Ritika Sachdev, MS Addl. Director , Centre for Sight