Tue, Dec 12, 2017 - Page 4 News List

Dry eyes worsen with pollution: doctor

By Wang Chun-chung and Sherry Hsiao  /  Staff reporter, with staff writer

Visits from people with dry eye syndrome have notably increased after Tainan’s air quality reached “unhealthy” levels for several successive days, an ophthalmologist based in the city said last week.

Animal studies have found that airborne particles can irritate the surface of the eye or worsen existing dry eye syndrome, Tainan Municipal An-Nan Hospital ophthalmologist Hsueh Wei-chen (薛維禎) said.

People should pay attention to the air quality indices released by the Environmental Protection Administration and reduce the time they spend outdoors when levels of pollution are unhealthy, he said.

If necessary, people should wear protective eyewear and masks to minimize the harmful effects of air pollution on health, Hsueh said, adding that people can also increase their intake of vitamins A, C and E, green vegetables and fish oils — specifically non-cod liver oils.

People who experience discomfort should visit an ophthalmologist, Hsueh added.

Dry eye syndrome is an inflammatory disease with several possible causes, Hsueh said, adding that it might be caused by personal health conditions — such as Sjogren’s syndrome, old age, cerebrovascular disease, eye inflammation, external damage or lack of nutrition — or external factors — such as wearing contact lenses; working in windy, hot or dry environments; or living in an environment with high concentrations of airborne particles such as PM2.5.

Dry eye syndrome is common, but difficult to treat fully, Hsueh said, adding that the condition manifests itself differently in each person.

Symptoms can include blurred vision; dryness; the sensation that there is something in the eye; redness of the eyes; itchiness; a stinging, burning, swollen or painful sensation; eye fatigue; or a bad mood, Hsueh said.

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