Long exposure to AC can cause dry eyes: Doctors

Bengaluru: With people spending long hours in front of computer in air-conditioned rooms, doctors claim they are witnessing more and more cases of ‘dry eye’ disease.

They warn that long-term exposure alters the lipid production from glands in the eyelids. This leads to dry eyes, cause inflammation and infections.

“Of late, there has been a growing use of air conditioners in homes and offices. People spending most parts of their day in air-conditioned rooms complain of burning or itching of eyes, crowding of letters and tiredness of eyes as the day passes. All of these symptoms are suggestive of dry eyes, said Dr. Lavanya Marineni, Consultant Ophthalmologist, Dr. Agarwal’s Eye Hospital.

She claimed they come across two such cases every day at the out-patient department at Dr Agarwal’s Eye Hospital at Yelahanka.

“Air conditioners reduce humidity in the room and cause evaporative dry eyes. In addition, the air conditioner vents blow air if directed at your face can result in dry eyes,” she added.

Satisha, a software engineer, had come to Dr. Agarwals's Eye Hospital with the complaints of burning, heaviness, and congestion of eyes in the evening and inability to work on the laptop for more than an hour, especially during evenings.

On examination, it was found that the meibomian glands were blocked and tear film break up time was reduced (8 seconds) indicating an unstable tear film. He was advised to stay away from AC vents and to keep the room temperature above 25 degrees.

He was advised to frequently blink while working on electronic gadgets like laptops. In addition, lid scrubs and artificial tear eye drops were given. His condition improved in three weeks.

Symptoms of dry eyes and dry eye syndrome are burning, dryness, foreign body sensation, Itchiness, unable to open eyes/eye fatigue, heaviness, watering from the eyes and blurred vision. The reading speed can slow down and the rate decreases as the severity increases.

Dr Mukta Shrivastava, Consultant Ophthalmologist, also said that dry eyes is a condition that occurs when the tears aren't able to provide adequate lubrication for your eyes. “Anyone who experience above symptoms must consult doctor,” she said.

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