While most of us recommend the wearing of Sunglasses when venturing out on a sunny day to reduce the brightness of the Sun’s rays entering the eye to tolerable limits and to help ease the strain caused to the eyes, we are blissfully oblivious to the fact that unprotected, direct exposure of the eye to ultra violet rays from the Sun is not just a matter of discomfort or irritation but something that has more deeper and critical consequences, as a recent study by the Elite School of Optometry establishes.
A first of its kind, large scale and in-depth study by Ms Rashima Asokan, faculty member, Elite School of Optometry, on the detrimental impact of UV rays on the human eye, conducted as a part of the ‘Chennai Eye Disease Incidence Study’ proved to be a startling revelation on the damage that exposure to a high degree of sunlight can cause to the human eye. The study titled ‘Quantification of Ocular Ultraviolet-B Radiation Exposure in a South Indian Population and its Association with Ocular Surface Disorders, Pseudoexfoliation, Cataract and Age-related Macular Degeneration’ also throws light on an interesting and hitherto unknown syndrome, the difference in lifetime ocular UV exposure between the rural and urban populations of the country, a key factor in assessing the degree of difference in the prevalence of diseases such as pterygium, pseudoexfoliation, spheroidal degeneration, cataract and age related macular degeneration among the rural and urban populations. The study recommends that something as simple as wearing spectacles/sunglasses can act as an effective precautionary and preventive measure against the damage caused by the UV rays and provide a safeguard against the above mentioned ailments, it also paves way for future research initiatives and hospital based studies on UV exposure levels among those suffering from the above ailments and those not affected by the same, creating online UV exposure assessment tools and so on.
The findings of the study conducted under the supervision of Dr Ronnie George (Director Research, Vision Research Foundation, Senior Consultant, Glaucoma Services, Sankara Nethralaya) and Co-supervisor: Dr Suman Kapur, Senior Professor and Dean (University-wide) Head – Department of Biological Sciences, Birla Institute of Technology and Science Pilani, Hyderabad Campus was presented on 15th June 2017, at the Birla Institute of Technology and Science Pilani, Hyderabad Campus. Dr Padmaja Kumari Rani, Senior Consultant, Smt. Kanuri Santhamma Centre for Vitreo Retinal diseases, Kallam Anji Reddy campus, L V Prasad Eye Institute, Banjara Hills, Hyderabad was the external examiner to the presentation. The direct and immediate impact of the findings of the study drew a high level of appreciation by the external reviewers and its far reaching results were published in highly prestigious, peer reviewed journals.
Sankara Nethralaya expresses its high appreciation to Ms Rashima Asokan for her painstaking effort towards scientifically establishing the harmful impact of the Sun’s UV rays on the human eye and suggesting precautions against the same, a most appropriate and meaningful exercise in a tropical country where the Sun beats down with all its brightness almost all through the year and conveys its hearty Congratulations!! on being honoured with a doctorate for her most relevant findings.