El Nino can negatively affect eyes, say specialists


(Updated )

The current hot weather brought on by the El Nino phenomenon since January will not only cause heatstroke, but can also negatively affect the eyes.

Tun Hussein Onn National Eye Hospital (THONEH) Medical Advisory Committee chairperson Dr Pall Singh said people, especially those who suffered from dry eyes, needed to emphasise on eye care by avoiding prolonged exposure to the sun.

Dr Pall Singh, who is also a senior consultant ophthalmologist, said those who suffered from dry eyes should use eye drops frequently to avoid irritation.

“Apart from using the drops, the public, including those who have dry eyes should wear sunglasses to protect the eyes from ultraviolet (UV) rays. But make sure the sunglasses are of good quality,” he told Bernama when contacted in Kuala Lumpur.

He said those who wear contact lenses should also use eye drops regularly to avoid the same problem.

“If they still feel the irritation even after frequent use of eye drops, then I advise them to seek immediate medical attention,” said Dr Pall Singh.

Malaysian Doctors Club president Dr Muhammad Hakim Nordin said the El Nino phenomenon could also cause eye fatigue and dehydration.

If eye care is neglected, he said the dry eye surface would cause infection of the eye or eyelid or even more serious problems such as inflammation of the eye tissues.

“Senior citizens, children and babies are at risk of these problems. I find that senior citizens tend to have inflamed eyes or keratitis where the eyes become red and sore,” he said.

Dr Muhammad Hakim said children and babies were prone to have tear gland malfunction due to the hot weather, which would lead to excessive eye discharge when they woke up in the morning.

Dr Muhammad Hakim said that during the hot weather, small insects such as ants, mosquitoes and bees were likely to enter homes and bite the occupants.

“Individuals who are allergic to insect bites may face the risk of inflammation of the eyes that causes swollen, watery and itchy eyes,” he added.

According to the Malaysian Meteorological Department, the phenomenon was expected to prolong until the end of May or June.

- Bernama

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