Bengaluru: If your child is suffering from eye allergy and rubbing eyes too often, it should not be taken lightly. They may be suffering from keratoconus, which could lead to blindness if left untreated.
Doctors claim that rise in pollution and long exposure to mobile phone screens have increased the risk of eye allergies among children.
Opthamologists at Dr Agarwal's Eye Hospital have launched a campaign to raise awareness about keratoconus. The ailment leads to the thinning of cornea, causes blurred vision and blindness in later stages.
Dr Ravi, Medical Director, Agarwal Hospitals, said, “About one child in 1,500 in India suffers from keratoconus. Children between 10 and 15 years are vulnerable. If the eye allergy is severe, children as young as eight years can suffer from the condition.”
He explained that if timely treatment is not taken, keratoconus can lead to worsening of vision. “Cases of keratoconus have risen by 10% in India in the last five years, mainly due to rise in the incidence of eye allergies among children. Luckily, with advances in diagnostic tools, it is possible to diagnose the condition in early stages.”
Elaborating on the link between pollution and artificial lights with eye allergies, Dr Raghu Nagaraju, said, “The incidence of eye allergies among children is rising due to increasing pollution. Widespread exposure to artificial lights, computer and mobile phone screens is also causing dry eyes. Dryness and inflammation is a vicious combination, which leads to eye allergies. When allergy affected children frequently rub their eyes it could leads to keratoconus.”
Doctors claim a corneal transplant (optical keratoplasty) can drastically improve the patient’s vision.
Dr Preethi, a consultant ophthalmologist at the hospital listed a few preventive measures. “Any child who is rubbing eyes frequently needs treatment for allergy, as well as eye examination by a corneal specialist to rule out keratoconus. This condition is also suspected in cases where blurred vision does not improve even after wearing glasses. As precaution, parents should limit exposure of children to dust, get treatment for allergies, avoid too much artificial light, limit exposure to computer, phone or TV screens.”
When asked about challenges doctors face to diagnose the disease, Dr Ravi said, "We need proper diagnostic instruments. Previously we didn't have all that, but now with good diagnostic tools we can detect it in the early stages and take up treatment."