Business Today

Go easy on your eyes

Staring at lighted screens for long or exposure to air pollution or toxic substances may cause a range of eye ailments.
twitter-logo E Kumar Sharma   NA     Print Edition: April 8, 2018
Illustration by Raj Verma

An HR head of a leading company, which is big in the digital space, recently told Business Today how much the eye health of its employees matters to the company. In fact, the company has programmed its systems so that pop-ups appear on PC screens at regular intervals, alerting the staff about the 20-20-20 rule - every 20 minutes, take a 20-second break and look at things 20 ft away. It is a no-brainer that many of us are victims of what doctors call 'computer vision syndrome' that causes eye strain, blurred vision and the commonest of all, dry eyes. The reason: We tend to watch lighted screens much of the time without blinking as much as we should.

Dry eye means the tear film on the surface of the eye is not able to keep it moistened and lubricated. A doctor will tell you it is a complex condition involving several components and a wide range of causal factors. But the commonest symptoms are sensation of dryness, heavy or fatigued eyes, burning sensation and blurry vision.

Riding two-wheelers without protective eye gear may also result in itchy eyes. It can be some kind of eye allergy, triggered by air pollution.

Those working in chemical factories need to be extra careful about the dangers of toxic exposure that can lead to burns. Also, scientists, microbiologists and pathologists, who use microscopes for long hours, end up straining their eyes.

Most eye ailments can be dealt with simple solutions such as the 20-20-20 rule, eye exercises and regular eyewash. But such symptoms may indicate more serious issues and one must visit an expert if the problems persist.

How Stem Cell Transplant helps

Eye care has seen new breakthroughs, many of them achieved indigenously. For instance, Hyderabad-headquartered L.V. Prasad Eye Institute (LVPEI) uses adult stem cells, instead of the more controversial embryonic stem cells, to help patients recover from damaged cells. Dr Sayan Basu, a consultant cornea surgeon and scientist at LVPEI, explains that simple limbal epithelial transplantation, or SLET, is the procedure to replace damaged stem cells with healthy ones, taken from the patient. Technically, limbal stem cell deficiency can be treated "by transplanting healthy limbal tissue to the surface of the diseased eye for in-vivo (at the site where it is required or on the eye) expansion of epithelial cells", he says. It means instead of using the lab to grow the stem cells on a tissue, doctors are using the damaged eye itself as the surface to grow the stem cells taken from the patient's healthy eye. Normally, when the cornea gets damaged, stem cells cannot regenerate, leading to eventual blindness. The cost of this treatment is `16,000-86,000. Dr Basu says laser treatments are increasingly used for eye care, and robotic surgery may soon take cataract treatment to a new level.


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