The air conditioning in the rooms affects the eyes, making them drier than normal
Cases of allergic conjunctivitis have increased in the United Arab Emirates in various age groups, with children under 15 being the most affected, ophthalmologists said on Wednesday.
It comes as many residents complain of red, itchy and teary eyes, which seems to indicate the condition.
“There is an increase in the number of patients during the summer, either with acute allergic conjunctivitis or with recurrent or chronic allergic conjunctivitis with relapse of allergic conjunctivitis, especially with adenovirus conjunctivitis,” explains Dr. Haitham Abdul Hafez Moued, consultant in ophthalmology and head of the department. , Burjeel Day Surgery Center, Reem Island, Abu Dhabi.
He adds: “There are different types of conjunctivitis: seasonal which is related to weather conditions and vernal conjunctivitis which affects children between 5 and 15 years old.
The weather conditions in the United Arab Emirates affect the eyes in several ways, they say. “During the summer, most people tend to stay indoors. Being in air-conditioned rooms lets the eye become drier than normal. This is because the humidity inside air-conditioned rooms is low. As a result, the eyes are not hydrated and the tear film which constitutes three layers (mucus, lipids and water) is deficient and thins. But when we go out, it’s hot, windy and dusty. These environmental factors would affect the eyes more, making the tear film thinner and deficient,” says Dr. Vikram Mohindra, Ophthalmology Specialist, Aster Hospital, Mankhool, Dubai.
Once that happens, the dust particles can then easily come into contact with the eyes, doctors explain.
He adds: “The thinner tear film couldn’t wash them out of their eyes. It’s not just dust, but it can be pollen grains, sand, or any particle. Trees and flowers contain organic dust particles – these can cause allergies in dry eyes.
Air conditioners, furniture harbor allergens
Apparently, poorly maintained air conditioners and household dust on upholstered furniture are also places where these allergens can exist for a long time.
Dr Mandeep Lamba, Ophthalmology Specialist and Head of Retina Services at Prime Hospital, says: “Since allergic conjunctivitis is a response of the conjunctiva (an exposed part of the eye) to any allergen , one of the most common factors is dust mites, sand, pollens, grass, among others.It could also be associated with nasal allergies and sinusitis.It mainly occurs in spring and summer. High humidity during the summer months is an aggravating factor.
Therefore, medical professionals stress that affected individuals should ideally be able to recognize the source of allergens and the time of allergy within a year.
Lamba adds, “A thorough cleaning of the house and work space around this time helps a lot. Consult an ophthalmologist and rule out other associated causes such as dry eye syndrome and meibomian gland disease. An eye doctor may also prescribe prophylactic eye drops to be used once daily to prevent symptoms from worsening.
Besides replacing items that contain allergens, such as pillows and rugs, doctors suggest other simple solutions to prevent illness.
Dr Mohindra explains: “We have to make sure the tear film is robust. One measure is to blink. Frequent blinking is important because it would wipe away dust and increase the tear film.
“Increasing screen time also causes dryness in the eye as the blink rate decreases, so it’s important to blink frequently.
He adds, “Another important factor is keeping our bodies hydrated. Body hydration affects eye hydration. We must therefore hydrate ourselves adequately. Drink more water and no soft drinks or caffeine.