Tue, Jun 25, 2019 - Page 2 News List

PM2.5, UV linked to eye polyps

PRECAUTION:Full-coverage sunglasses can act as a ‘mask’ to protect the eyes from particulate matter and harmful ultraviolet rays, a China Medical University doctor said

By Huang Mei-chu and Sherry Hsiao  /  Staff reporter, with staff writer

A child wearing sunglasses poses for a photograph in Hsinchu County on Sunday.

Photo: Huang Mei-chu, Taipei Times

Long-term exposure to a combination of PM2.5 — particulate matter smaller than 2.5 micrometers — and ultraviolet (UV) rays could cause allergies and irregular growths in the eyes, a Hsinchu County ophthalmologist said on Sunday.

PM2.5 makes unprotected eyes more susceptible to chronic inflammation, especially in people with allergic conditions, China Medical University Hsinchu Hospital ophthalmology department director Chen Ying-shan (陳瑩山) said.

Similarly, UV rays could lead to vasculitis of the sclera, or inflammation of the blood vessels in the white of the eye, he said.

When a person experiences repeated eye inflammation or red eyes, the tissues in their sclera could thicken and they could develop scleroderma, which is similar to skin hardening with repeated friction, Chen said.

If scleroderma is not properly treated and spreads to the pupil, it could grow into polyps and have irreversible effects on vision, he said.

There has been about a 30 percent increase in such cases over the past three years, with the number of patients in central and southern Taiwan being five times that of in the north, he said.

While scleroderma occurs in women about three times more often than men, more men see their conditions worsen into polyps, Chen said.

These rates could be caused by southern regions of the nation receiving more sunlight and women being more proactive than men when it comes to seeking medical attention, he said.

The number of women aged about 30 with scleroderma has increased over the past few years due to the use contact lenses, circle lenses and other beauty products, Chen said.

People with symptoms should wear sunglasses while outdoors and avoid wearing contact lenses, he said.

Wearing full-coverage sunglasses when PM2.5 levels are high is like wearing a “mask” over the eyes, as they can prevent airborne particulate matter from entering the conjunctiva, which can cause allergic reactions and inflammation, while also blocking UV rays, Chen said.

Chen advised people with pollen allergies to carry eye drops prescribed by a doctor at all times.

People can also freeze wet towels and carry them in insulated bags to use them as ice packs to alleviate symptoms of allergic reactions, such as redness or swelling, he said.

Wet wipes or cold beverage cans can also serve the same purpose, Chen said.

People should eat more green vegetables and eggs to protect the eyes, he said.

Green vegetables are “experts” in protecting against sunlight, while the high levels of lutein, zeaxanthin and zinc in egg yolks benefit the eyes and are easily absorbed by the body, he added.

This story has been viewed 1893 times.

Comments will be moderated. Keep comments relevant to the article. Remarks containing abusive and obscene language, personal attacks of any kind or promotion will be removed and the user banned. Final decision will be at the discretion of the Taipei Times.

TOP top