Eating too well or staying up all night playing mahjong may be the main reasons for the increase of eye-related problems over the Lunar New Year holidays, a leading ophthalmologist said as he listed situations that should be avoided.
The traditional concept of eating well over the Lunar New Year can adversely affect some medical conditions, such as diabetes and high blood pressure, said Chen Ying-shan (陳瑩山), head of Hsinchu Cathay General Hospital’s ophthalmology department.
Diabetics have been known to suffer from retinal hemorrhaging and cystoid macular edema because of fluctuating blood sugar levels, while people with high blood pressure have been known to suffer from retinal vascular occlusion, which could lead to eye strokes, he said.
Some people without a history of high blood pressure may also experience arterial ruptures in the white of their eyes if their blood pressure levels rise too high, Chen said.
People with high blood pressure need to take special care to stay warm, Chen said, citing the case of a patient who had not been able to see anything within minutes of walking out of a warm room.
The patient described the situation as “pulling blinds over the eyes,” the doctor said, adding that the condition was the result of a blood clot in the retinal arteries caused by the extreme difference in temperature.
Diabetics who are going abroad should maintain their diet by having more meals, but eating less at each one, and they should also increase the number of times they check their blood sugar levels, he said.
Healthy people could also experience eye problems from watching too much TV, spending too much time in front of a computer, or repeatedly staying up late to play mahjong, he added.
The most often seen symptoms are headaches, aching eyes and increased levels of pseudomyopia, Chen said, adding that dry eye syndrome was also a recurring symptom because people do not blink as much when they are concentrating on watching TV, computer monitors or playing mahjong.
Other eye problems can be caused by contact lens abuse, such as going to sleep without removing the lenses, or wearing the lenses for too long a period, or getting too close to a hot pot while wearing lenses, which could cause them to become distorted, damaging the cornea, he said.
People visiting a beach or going out into the snow should be careful about refracted light, while those who like to combine a dip in a hot spring with a sauna session should avoid going to the sauna right after being in the water, because the sulfuric content of the water can damage the cornea, Chen said.
Parents should also keep a close eye on children playing with fireworks to prevent the children from injuring themselves, he said.