CHENNAI: Why are cataract blind for every alternate person over the age of 40 in rural India when only one out of every five cities is infected? This is the question that bothered a group of researchers at the city’s Shankara Nethralaya nearly two years ago. Today, they have the answer to ultraviolet radiation.
A team comprising optometrists and ophthalmologists found that pollution was higher in neighboring Thiruvallur than in ultraviolet radiation in Chennai, but the risk of ocular exposure to these rays was higher in rural areas than in urban areas.

“Our study shows that this is clearly due to the lifestyle changes adopted by most urbanites,” said Dr Sankara Nethralaya, consultant. Said Ronnie George. The team calculated the “lifetime ocular UV exposure” in rural and urban areas, displaying profiles of more than 800 people who were equally divided into urban and rural areas.
“The study proves that no matter where they are or what they do, agriculture, poultry or construction labor hats and / or sunglasses need to block ultraviolet rays from the eye. It has to do more with common sense than style,” he said.

Agricultural worker Arivunidhi K (47), who underwent cataract surgery in June, understood this well. “Almost every member of my family has the disease. It progressed rapidly in my wife and she had surgery last year,” he said. Arivunidhi and his wife, Kalaiselvi, are just a few lucky, but not many.

Cataract means the cloud of a lens. India is now home to over 15 million blind people, most of which are cataracts and therefore reversible. A recent study of cataracts by the hospital examined 7,774 patients, showing that about 50% of rural citizens over the age of 40 were affected. In urban areas, about 20% of people are affected.

Cataracts are classified according to where they occur. The cataract associated with ultraviolet exposure is formed in the outer layer of the cortical cataract and lens. People with low lifetime eye exposure are at lower risk for this type of cataract.

Lifetime ocular exposure is calculated with formulas developed by scientists based on an individual’s case history, including occupation, sun stay and residence. The hospital received ultraviolet radiation dose from tropospheric emission monitoring systems. According to an international initiative to study Ozone depletion, the UV index in Thiruvallur is 6.9 and in Chennai is 7.1.

Since January, the team has measured the range of ultraviolet radiation in Chennai and neighboring districts. “We have exposed polysulfone strips capable of absorbing UV flow from sunlight, and then read the measurement under the collimator, a device that can narrow the particle or wave beam. The gap between urban and rural areas is clear,” said optometrist Rashima Ashokan.

Studies have shown that widespread exposure to sunlight, especially ultraviolet B radiation, can increase the risk of major types of cataracts, including skin cancer. UV-A radiation is highly associated with skin tanning.

If it goes to the radiation level, there should be a higher risk for Chennai. “” What we saw, why not, “said Dr. George. The analysis gave answers. Lifetime ocular exposure for urban residents was 1.32 versus 3.16 for rural residents.

This clearly explains why people in rural areas had this disease at least five years earlier than their counterparts in the city or why.

“When there is enough sun to give sunlight, it is only wise to block the sun. If glasses are not affordable, we at least suggest a hat,” said Rashima.

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