Keep your eyes healthy during spring
Published : Mar 1, 2012 - 20:19
Updated : Mar 1, 2012 - 20:19
Eyes become sensitive just after winter; yellow dust may cause various symptoms

Spring is right around the corner, but whole many look forward to warmer weather, some dread the season because of pollen, dust and other allergies.

Our eyes are especially sensitive in spring. The dryness and extreme temperature differences between morning and nighttime during winter weakens the immune system, leaving yellow dust and pollen able to cause intolerable itchiness, sneezing, tears and more.

Dr. Kim Jin-guk of B&Viit Eye Center provided The Korea Herald with tips to keep your eyes healthy in spring. 
A girl rubs her eyes because of an allergic reaction to spring dryness and dust. (B&Viit Eye Center)

1. Watch for allergic conjunctivitis: According to the Health Insurance Review and Assessment, the number of patients visiting eye doctors were 15.9 percent higher in March and 16.9 percent higher in April compared to other months from 2005-2009. This is because of small particles floating in the air, Kim said.

Pollutants get into the eyes and stick on conjunctiva to induce the allergic reaction. One will feel itchy and suffer swollen conjunctiva. If not treated in its early stages, an ulcer or murky vision could develop.

If one has dry eye syndrome, the condition could worsen since more dust is likely to stay on the conjunctiva while fewer tears could keep the dirt from being rinsed off.

“If you have swollen eye areas, chances are high that you will have problems with the cornea. Rinse the front of the eyes gently with saline solution and visit your ophthalmologist right away,” Kim said.

2. Avoid exposure to ultraviolet rays as much as possible: Spring will drive you outdoors. This means you are more likely to be exposed to ultraviolet rays, which are about twice as strong in March as in May.

Long-term exposure to ultraviolet rays could cause blood congestion, dry-eye syndrome and conjunctivitis. It could also lead to cataracts in the worst case.

Kim stresses that cataracts are not so new to the younger generation. He said the “Western” diet, irregular lifestyles and an excessive use of smartphones and computers has increased the prevalence of the disease.

“Rinse your eyes with saline water or clean water when you get back home” Kim said. But he warned against making your own saline water because you could hurt the cornea.

“If you usually wear contact lenses, try to wear glasses on extremely dry days,” he said.

3. Xeroma: Dry air causes dry eye syndrome, or xeroma. If you use contact lenses frequently, the chances of this developing increase.

Xeroma could be partially prevented through intake of vitamin A, which is abundant in tomatoes, zucchini, paprika and carrots.

Using eye drops could lessen the pain, too. But always consult a doctor, Kim said.

By Bae Ji-sook (