Why Do Eyes Need Extra Care in Summers?
- High temperatures accelerate tear film evaporation; making the eyes go dry quickly and worsening of dry eye disease.
- UV component in the sunlight rises; exacerbates allergies, dry eye condition and degenerative conditions of skin around the eyes and surface of the eyes.
- There is a rise in the allergy causing substances in the atmosphere; harvesting and threshing of crops, drying up of leaves and stems, seed dispersal by various plants, microscopic mites and their excreta, fungus spores etc.
- Dust storms and winds: lead to spread of allergy causing molecules and substances over a wide area.
How Do We Mitigate the Weather Wagaries?
- Stay in doors at peak temperatures in cool environment. 24 degree Celsius temperature and a relative humidity of 62% is most comfortable. Hydrate yourself with isotonic fluids regularly. An intake of about 4 to 5 litres of water helps.
- Avoid direct flow of air onto the eyes as it increases evaporative loss of tear film. Air from air conditioners needs to be moistened as it is very dry. Central HVAC systems also provide a dry air flow. Keep shallow pans of water near the indoor units, put water in the trays of window units and wash the condenser tubes with water jets daily.
- Use preservative free lubricant drops and increase frequency if you have a dry eye already. Keep dispensing bottles on the door side of refrigerators. Remember that you cannot over hydrate your eyes, so instill drops the moment you feel gritty, have burning sensation.
- Go outdoors early morning/evening preferably. Use water soluble sunscreens and not water resistant on skin. use caps or hats to reduce sunlight exposure. A sun blocking umbrella is also recommended. Select appropriate shades for your eyes. UV light absorbing shades are good. Coolest colour is grey but you can choose from many colours and hues now. Reflecting shades are also effective.
- Caution: Cheap shade are potentially harmful since they do not absorb UV light, have optical distortions and get scratched quickly.
Wear cotton rich fabrics and comfortable fitting clothes to feel comfortable. An overall comfort is important to feel 'cool' in summers. Environmental management is as important as medical management in the summer season.