The scorching summer sun can be harsh on our eyes. Hema Vijay suggests how we can prevent allergies and infections
Of course, fierce summers do take a toll on the entire body, but perhaps, it is our eyes that feel the heat the most. Our hot summers bring along with them the possibility of eye irritation, allergy, conjunctivitis and more; so stay on guard.
When we go out in the hot sun without adequate protection, the skin of the eyelids bears the brunt of the heat first. “When you get indoors, wash your face with clean tap water, or wet a cloth with water (cold patch) and keep it over the eyelids,” recommends Dr. A.G. Ramesh, consultant ophthalmologist. Don’t use ice or cold water as the sudden temperature difference could harm the eye.
Our eyes do get affected by electrolyte imbalance because of sweating and loss of fluids. “Drinking electrolyte fluids, tender coconut water or lemon juice with a pinch of salt and a teaspoon of sugar can rectify the imbalance,” says Dr. Ramesh. The electrolyte imbalance in the eye can also manifest itself as a swelling on the eyelid. Alternatively, swelling and puffy eyes can be due to other underlying reasons such eye infections or systemic disorders such as kidney and heart disease. In general, staying hydrated is a must to beat the heat. Drink 12 to 15 glasses of water every day, besides snacking on lemon juice, cucumber salad, tender coconut water or slices of melon as often as possible. It is advisable to opt for buttermilk instead of curd or lassi, as the latter two actually heat up the body, according to ayurveda.
Don’t forget to use an umbrella or hat while venturing out in the sun. As for swimming and other aquatic sports, don’t forget protective glasses. It’s wise to swim in the shade. Avoid venturing outdoors between 12 noon and 3 p.m. when the sun is at its fiercest and ultraviolet radiation exposure at its peak.
Allergy of the eye increases during summer because of greater pollen release into the air and increased ambient heat, more so in children. “Symptoms include itching and redness of the eyes, along with a burning sensation, causing the person to rub his eyes vigorously, which makes it only worse. Frequent washing, avoiding rubbing of the eyes, refraining from walking in dusty areas, wearing protective eye glasses and the use of eye drops if required, under the supervision of an eye specialist, will control the situation,” says Dr. Anand Parthasarathy, Chief Surgeon, Vasan Eye Care Hospital.
Most of us have experienced ‘Madras Eye’ or conjunctivitis, marked by a gritty sensation in the eyes as if there are sand particles in them, redness and watering of the eyes, discharge from the eye and finding our eyelids glued together when we wake up in the morning. Do not attempt to self-treat conjunctivitis. Recently, ophthalmologists are reporting instances of keratoconjunctivitis, a type of conjunctivitis that affects the cornea and causes defective vision. Keratoconjunctivitis has symptoms similar to conjunctivitis. The symptoms are blurred vision, pain, sensitivity and aversion to light.
“As a first aid measure, before meeting the eye specialist, wash the eyes with clean water and use ciprofloxacin eye drops or eye lubricants. But consulting an eye specialist is a must. Do not self-medicate by buying eye solutions prescribed for others or eye drops you have bought earlier. And do not use steroid combinations,” Dr. Ramesh warns. “With conjunctivitis, good eye hygiene should be maintained by repeated washing with clean water. Personal belongings such as handkerchiefs, mobile phone and TV remote should not be shared with others and handshaking should be avoided.” Dr. Anand advises.
Don't forget sunglasses
When out in the sun, get kids too to use sunglasses. “This protects them from eye-related diseases later on in their life like macular degeneration, cataract and pterygium (a mass of tissue arising from the inner corner of the eye)”, says Dr. Anand. Use shatter-proof sunglasses with labels that mention 100 per cent protection from both UVA and UVB rays. Go for sunglasses with large shades and wrap-around frames. Use sunglasses on cloudy days too, as UV rays are still around then.
Back to tradition
Oil massage for the hair and skin dissipates body heat. “For summers, oil massage of the scalp with thriphaladi thailam with kadukai, nellikai and thandrikai, bringaraja and some cooling herbs as ingredients and gingelly oil as the base once or twice a week dissipates heat, improves vision and protects against eye infections. This also improves the functioning of the other sensory organs in the head and induces good sleep,” says veteran ayurvedic physician Dr. V. R. Seshadri, chief consultant, Visesh Ayurvedics.