Ever since the age of the industrial revolution began, Mother Earth has suffered immensely at the hands of humans. As a race, we have been generally disrespectful of the threshold barriers which were set to preserve our planet’s beauty. The thoughtless, ill-planned urbanization and industrialization gave birth to many problems, the most significant one of which is air pollution. They say karma works most unpredictably, and air pollution has avenged some of the damages humans have inflicted on humans. In this discussion, we talk about air pollution by keeping Pakistan as the reference battlefield. Harmful effects of air pollution are manifested mostly in the form of ocular disorders, an example of which is eye cataracts.
Air pollution: a recap
But before we talk about eye cataracts, we must highlight the contributing factors of air pollution. Using the Environmental Protection Agency’s classification as a reference, there are six common air pollutants. These include ozone, particulates, oxides of sulphur, nitrogen, and carbon, and lead. However, it must be noted that this is not an exhaustive list by any means, the number of air pollutants is at an all-time high. For example, consider forest fires which pollute the air in multiple ways by emitting harmful oxides, sprinkling dust in the otherwise pure air, and releasing fumes that can lead to ocular disorders like cataracts.
How air pollution affects your vision?
Because our eyes are constantly exposed to air of extremely poor quality, the possibility of minor and major ocular disorders cannot be ruled out at any point in modern-day life. Here, minor refers to ocular allergies and irritations, while major indicate conditions like retinal bleeding and cataracts [i]. We will focus more on cataracts in the following sections of this discussion since they are the major ocular disorders around which this discussion has been orchestrated.
In developing countries which have cities with highest air quality indexes, cataracts are one of the leading cause of blindness. This is not merely a speculative observation, rather a statement that is well backed by epidemiological data. According to studies conducted by WHO, household air pollution, in particular, may well be responsible for one-quarter of the total disease burden [ii].
How bad are things exactly in Pakistan?
The crazy wave of industrialization engulfed the entire world and Asian countries like Pakistan wanted some of it as well. Loads of positives came out of this approach, but the biggest downside which shadowed all the advancements was how it made our air simply unbreathable! The air quality indexes for cities like Lahore and Karachi are always high, which implies that the air is just too unhealthy. Recently, the problem of smog has surged as well, its toxic nature making people’s life even more so unbearable. So all in all, air pollution is increasing with every day passing in the land of pure. How ironic!
Prevention & protection
The cloudiness that develops in the ocular lens because of cataracts can lead to blurred and double vision. Hence, being familiar with measures that can help reduce the risk of cataracts is the kind of knowledge everyone must-have. For example, it is best to stay indoors in case the air quality is too bad on a given day. You can check air quality indexes online every day [iii]. Air quality indexes commonly portray the worst numbers during the rush hours i.e. morning and evening. If you have a history of eye allergies and irritations, it is best to wear sunglasses when gallivanting out in the city. To get any irritants or dust particles out of your eyes, washing them with cold water is a must. And lastly, do not ignore any minor inconvenience, instead of doing the wisest thing, which is to book an appointment with an ophthalmologist!
Are cataracts treatable?
One of the biggest benefits of living in the 21st century is that biomedical sciences have progressed to an amazing extent. Many of the diseases and disorders which were considered untreatable previously are now treatable. Cataracts are no different, these can be treated too with the help of cataract surgery. During this surgical procedure, the clouded lens is removed and replaced with an artificial lens. This artificial lens is known as the intraocular lens and becomes the permanent part of the patient undergoing cataract surgery. An anaesthetic is applied during the procedure, the patient doesn’t need to stay the night for surgery [iv]. Minor risks associated with cataract surgery are infection and bleeding, a major risk is a retinal detachment.
Barriers to cataract surgery in Pakistan
Cataract surgery is quite an expensive medical procedure, which is one of the biggest reasons why many Pakistani patients do not opt for this surgical procedure in time. Then, some of the patients do not have the awareness or the knowledge of the condition at all. Apart from these hindrances, fear of surgery and postponement of surgery so that cataract matures first are some of the other key barriers [v]. However, the cost of the surgical procedure remains the biggest barrier to surgery. One organization that helps people overcome this barrier is Transparent Hands.
Transparent Hands is the largest technological platform for crowdfunding in the healthcare sector of Pakistan. It offers a complete range of free healthcare services including medical and surgical treatments, medical camps, and telehealth facilities to the underprivileged community of Pakistan. The platform provides visibility to underprivileged patients and builds a personal and trusted bond between patients and donors while ensuring complete transparency. It also sets up free medical camps in the rural areas of Pakistan in which, free medical consultation, free medicines, and free diagnostic tests are provided to deserving patients. Donors from all over the world can use the Transparent Hands crowdfunding web portal and donate through 100% secure payment modes. They could select any patient, fund the treatment, and receive regular feedback and updates until the patient has recovered completely.
That would be all from this discussion. We hope that there was something if not everything new that you learned from this discussion about the situation of air pollution and its relevance to surging eye cataract cases in Pakistan. On that optimistic note, we bid you farewell from this discussion!