Eye health: How to take care of your eyes in the upcoming seasons

Eman Youssef , Monday 4 May 2020

Dr. Mohamed Nabil el-Nahhas, consultant of Ophthalmology in Mataria hospital, reveals ways to protect our eyes during spring and summer

A girl touches an advertising billboard in Shanghai, August 8, 2006. (Reuters)
A girl touches an advertising billboard in Shanghai, August 8, 2006. (Reuters)

What are the common kinds of allergy that affect the eyes, especially during spring and summer, and how can we control it? 

Usually during spring and summer, there is an increase in cases of eye allergies due to the weather changes, especially the rise in air temperatures and the wind stirring sand and dust, as well as the season of pollen allergies caused by plants.

The most common allergy is spring ophthalmia that affects the children, where the child suffers from severe red eyes and swelling of the eyelids with severe itching, and the inability to open the eye in normal light.

This kind of allergy needs treatment that may extend to several months and it is repeated annually before it ends.

There are also normal allergies that occur in different age groups, especially those who are exposed to sunlight or heat and dust in their work. These allergies need shorter times of treatment. In order to prevent eye allergies, it is advised not to be subjected to direct sunlight as much as possible and to wear sunglasses. We have to use the appropriate eye drops when we go for swimming and we must consult an eye doctor when needed.

In general, how can we protect our eyes, especially during the coronavirus pandemic?

The eye already cleans its surface by its tears, but we should keep our eyes clean. Not touching or scrubbing our eyes with contaminated hands is a must, especially in the era of coronavirus. Wear good quality sun glasses in sunny summer times, especially if you suffer from allergy. 

Workers at risky jobs subjected to foreign bodies hitting the eyes or those working with strong acids or alkalis should wear protective shields. Lubricant eye drops in the form of artificial tears can wet the eye surface in hot or windy weather. People suffering from general diseases affecting the eyes such as diabetes should visit the eye doctor when first diagnosed with the disease and the doctor will schedule there follow up course. 

At the present time, with the spread of the coronavirus around the world, attention must be paid to protecting the eye from the virus, as eye secretions can be a source of infection. To prevent the infection, we have to wash our hands with water and soap regularly and not touch the eye except after washing it well. Medical staff dealing with patients with conjunctivitis must use medical gloves and get rid of them immediately after the patient is examined. All viral diseases such as influenza, measles, and others can cause inflammation of the outer surface of the eye (conjunctiva), the virus can appear with eye secretions, and the transmission of infection can happen through the eye. 

Computers and mobile phones are used excessively nowadays, is this harmful to our eyes?

Working on your computer or mobile phone for a long time causes exhaustion of the eye muscles, resulting in headache or discomfort. Also, concentration on the screen may lead to infrequent eye blinking resulting in a burning sensation. We have to take a rest every one hour from work or using the mobile by closing your eyes for 2-3 minutes or looking at far away objects. Do not forget normal blinking and artificial tear eye drops could also be a great help. 

Which food is important for healthy eyes?

A balanced diet containing different substances such as carbohydrates, fats, proteins, minerals and vitamins is good for eye health. If there is any proven deficiency in any vitamin or mineral in the body then the physician can prescribe the supplement. But there is no need to take vitamins if there is no deficiency. 

What are the recent improvements in corneal surgery?

In recent years, corneal surgery has improved so much and become less risky. As it is well known, trachoma is a widespread inflammation affecting Egyptians, so many of them need corneal transplants donated from a recently dead person, as trachoma causes a corneal opacity in many cases. The classic surgery is performed by removing a full thickness corneal disc about 7-8 millimeters in diameter and is replaced by another disc from the donor. If the opacity is superficial there is no need to replace the whole thickness of the cornea, but a half thickness is only removed from the cornea and replaced, this gives the advantage of not opening the eye ball and thus reducing the risk of complications. This procedure is used successfully to treat keratoconus patients where the cornea becomes conical in shape instead of the normal spherical shape. Also, the donated cornea can be divided into anterior and posterior lamellae, one to treat anterior corneal disease and the other half to treat posterior corneal disease. 

Many people suffer from dry eyes, what are the symptoms and treatment?

Dry eye is a common disease especially in the elderly and in people subjected to hot weather. The patient complains of burning and redness and sometimes blurred vision. When diagnosed, it is treated by artificial tear eye drops many times a day. Some cases need to occlude the passage for the tears either temporarily or permanently to save the available amount of tears. The patient is also advised to avoid air currents, high temperatures and to wear protective glasses. 

What are the new technologies in the world of vision correction?

Vision correction surgeries are used as an alternative to eyeglasses or contact lenses that may sometimes cause allergic reactions or eye infections, especially when you do not follow the doctor’s instructions regarding the number of hours of daily use and the method of cleaning and caring for lenses. In the case of the patient’s desire for an alternative to eyeglasses and contact lenses, he can resort to vision correction surgeries after performing the necessary examinations to determine the most appropriate solutions for each patient. 

These surgeries vary between the traditional Lasik and Femto-lasik technology, which is an alternative to make a corneal flap as a preparatory step for vision correction by Excimer laser. It is possible in some cases to use the Femto-lasik technique to make a small opening in the cornea and remove part of its tissue in the form of a lens after its formation by the Femto-Lasik or Femto-smile, which gives more hardness to the cornea. 

As for cases for which the Lasik method is not suitable due to insufficient thickness of the cornea for complete correction, they can consider resorting to lens implants. It may be placed in front of the iris (the colored part of the eye) or behind it in the form of an internal contact lens, and the materials used are constantly modified in order to be inserted from the smallest surgical opening and for the eye to accept it without any infections occurring. In any cases of correction surgery, it is necessary to have fixed eyeglasses for at least a year, which is not what usually happens before the age of 18-20 years and in rare cases it can be performed before this age if there is a difference between the refraction of the eyes by more than 4 degrees for fear of laziness in the weaker eye.

What are the main causes and treatment of dark circles surrounding the eyes?

This condition is annoying, especially for women. Although it appears around the eyes, it is not caused by eye diseases. It is due to pigmented cells migrating from elsewhere to the eye lids. It occurs in persons who do not get enough sleep or from being exhausted at work for example. Some diseases such as increased blood pressure and anemia can also cause these dark circles around the eyes. It can be treated by treating the original disease first and getting more rest. 

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