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Rising pollution levels in Delhi trigger 40% surge in eye problems


Air quality across Delhi has been in the “very poor” category, with AQI ranging from 350 to a severe rating of 450.

(Image Credit: AdobeStock/saurav005)

(Image Credit: AdobeStock/saurav005)

The Weather Channel is reporting ophthalmologists in Delhi are observing a sharp rise in the number of patients suffering from eye problems like allergies, burning of eyes, and itching due to high levels of pollution in the capital.1

Air quality across Delhi has been in the “very poor” category, with AQI ranging from 350 to a severe rating of 450. Due to the smog caused by stubble burning and adverse weather conditions, ophthalmologists have seen a 35-40% rise in the number of patients with eye-related problems.1

"With severe air quality and high level of pollution in Delhi-NCR, we are observing an increase in number of patients coming to us with complaints of redness, Itching, and watering in the eyes," said Ikeda Lal, MS, MBBS, Cornea and Refractory Surgery Specialist, at Delhi Eye Centre and Sir Ganga Ram Hospital New Delhi. "Patients with pre-existing dry eyes are experiencing exacerbation due to high pollution. We are observing almost increase of 40% rise in the number of patients coming to us with eye-related problems,"

J S Titiyal, MBBS, head of RP Centre for Ophthalmic Sciences, AIIMS, said, “The problem has been aggravated for those who already have dry eyes. Similarly, those who have undergone eye surgeries or are on multiple drops for eye-related disorders are facing more issues now.”

Ikeda Lal recommended contact lenses and eye makeup should be avoided until the eyes are healed completely. The use of lubricating eye drops as well as glasses (normal or sunglasses) while outside can help.

A previous study from the British Journal of Ophthalmology showed that residents who lived in highly polluted areas were at least 8% more likely to be diagnosed with age-related macular degeneration (AMD) than residents of less polluted areas.2

  1. Delhi Witnesses 40 Per Cent Rise in Eye Ailments Amidst Air Pollution Crisis; Ophthalmologists on Alert. Accessed November 23, 2023. https://weather.com/en-IN/india/health/news/2023-11-23-ophthalmologists-on-alert-as-delhi-witnesses-40-rise-in-eye-ailments
  2. Chua SYL, Warwick A, Peto T on behalf of The UK Biobank Eye and Vision Consortium, et al. Association of ambient air pollution with age-related macular degeneration and retinal thickness in UK Biobank. British Journal of Ophthalmology 2022;106:705-711.
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