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Tuesday June 18, 2024

Heatwaves pose serious risk to eyesight

By Muhammad Qasim
May 22, 2024
A representational image showing an official standing in the scorching sun during a heatwave. — AFP/File
A representational image showing an official standing in the scorching sun during a heatwave. — AFP/File

Rawalpindi: As the temperatures rise and heatwaves become more frequent, Al-Shifa Trust Eye Hospital, known for its expert eye care services, has issued a warning to the public regarding the risks posed by heat waves to eyesight, emphasizing the importance of protecting eyes during these challenging times.

The most common eye problem during the extreme hot weather conditions in summer is eye dryness, especially in environments with low humidity and air conditioners and the use of contact lenses both can exacerbate the condition, said Dr. Wajid Ali Khan, Chief of Medical Services at Al-Shifa Trust Eye Hospital. The National Disaster Management Authority (NDMA) and the National Emergency Operation Centre (NEOC) have forecasted that Pakistan will face three heat wave spells in May and June. The third spell is anticipated to be particularly intense, lasting from three to five days. These prolonged periods of extreme heat can lead to various eye-related issues, making proactive eye care essential, said Dr. Wajid.

Talking to media men, he said that these heat waves will bring with them many problems, including adverse effects on the eyes. Symptoms often include eye redness, a feeling of heaviness, a gritty feeling in the eyes, or even sensitivity to light, he added. Individuals who spend extended periods outdoors without adequate sun protection may be at risk of developing pterygium. Protecting one’s eyes from the sun’s harmful rays is crucial to averting this eye condition, he said.

He added that eye infections become more common, especially when the eyes come into contact with water. There are a large number of pathogens in water, which are major causes of eye emergencies. This infection can result in permanent visual impairment or blindness. Those who use contact lenses are especially vulnerable and should, under no circumstances, bathe wearing the lenses, he suggested. He added that eye allergies are also common during the warmer months. These allergens can exacerbate symptoms such as dryness, itching, or burning.