As Covid wreaked havoc throughout the world, working professionals and students moved to remote work and learning which resulted in increased dependence on various screens, leading to several eye problems. According to health experts, proper nutrition for the eye is, thus, imperative.
The most common eye problems reported by children and working people during the pandemic include eye fatigue, dry and irritated eyes, fuzzy vision, and nearsightedness. This is further exacerbated by low physical activity, irregular eating habits, frequent snacking, and poor food quality during the pandemic.
"Every day, we encounter twenty to thirty patients who come to us complaining of eye discomfort. However, correct nutrition can offer the necessary support for ocular function, protect the eye from damaging light, and prevent age-related degenerative illnesses," Dr Vineet Sehgal, Senior Consultant at Sharp Sight Eye Hospitals, said.
Further, Covid-19, which is majorly a respiratory disease and is known to affect lungs, also causes modest to severe eye problems.
Some patients may develop conjunctivitis, irritated eyes, light sensitivity, and eye discomfort, which may last longer than two weeks.
"People who have a severe Covid-19 infection are at a high risk of having ocular abnormalities like vascular occlusion," Sehgal said.
Long-term use of steroids also increases the risk of mucormycosis -- a severe consequence occurring in Covid patients, particularly those who are diabetic or immune-compromised. Infection of the nose and sinuses that spread to the orbit can cause vision loss or even death, if not treated promptly.
Long Covid also affects the eyes with people reporting the most frequent symptom -- conjunctivitis.
"Conjunctivitis can be treated with medicine, but, in certain cases, the retina and retinal vessels are damaged, resulting in long-term visual loss. This blockage of retinal veins not only causes substantial vision loss, but also takes a long time to heal," Sehgal said.
Including a diet rich in seasonal fruits and vegetables which give vitamins, minerals and antioxidants can improve eye health.
"Consuming minerals, such as lutein and zeaxanthin, as well as vitamins C, E, and zinc, have been associated with a decreased risk of serious eye diseases, such as age-related macular degeneration," Nabanita Saha, Chief Clinical Dietician, Manipal Hospitals, Bengaluru, said.
"The nutritional needs for eye health are complicated, but some nutrients, such as green leafy vegetables, fruits, and nuts are very crucial. Physical exercise, in conjunction with a healthy diet, has been found to help prevent eye diseases," she added.
In addition, if any patient, recovering from Covid, experiences symptoms like stuffiness in the nose, swelling around the eyes or nose, blurry vision, double vision, or pain around eyes/nose, they should immediately see an eye doctor, experts suggested.