Long commuting in metros can harm eyes

Published: Wednesday 15 August 2007

daily commuting in metros can harm your eyes. Research by the Delhi Institute of Pharmaceutical Sciences and Research, the Venu Eye Institute and Research Center and the Dr Rajendra Prasad Center for Ophthalmic Sciences says exposure to vehicular air pollution damages the surface of human eye.

The results were published in the Indian Journal of Occupational and Environmental Medicine (Vol 11, No 1). The researchers examined the eyes of 441 commuters in Delhi, who have been travelling through highly polluted areas for two years. Another 79 people who travel less were also studied and both the results were compared.

The study examined the distance of travel, commuting time, mode of transport, frequency of daily travel in a year and the total travelling time of both the groups. The commuters history of symptoms such as redness in the eye, blurred vision and photophobia--eyes' intolerance to light--were examined.

The results (see table: Polluting travel) showed that people who travel long distance faced more problems. While 45 per cent from the less travelled group reported various symptoms, 78 per cent in the former group had problems.

According to the researchers, the problems occur due to the rising level of nitrogen dioxide and suspended particulate matter, which, they say, increase the acidic value of tears. This creates irritation on the surface of the eye, eventually triggering diseases. Researchers say wearing goggles while travelling and using artificial tear supplements can protect the eyes.

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