Visilab sunglasses for Zanskar
The environmental conditions in Zanskar are quite challenging for the eyes. There are physiologic and pathological changes in the eye to cope with the dry climate, the high altitude radiation and the strong winds. The tear film deficiencies due to excessive evaporation causes damage to the ocular surface. Common symptoms are burning, scratching, feeling of foreign body, eye fatigue, difficulty in reading and blurring vision.
Complications are: visual loss, infections, keratitis, corneal erosions, corneal ulcerations and perforations. (1)
One can easily see the eye frequent eye problems while traveling in Zanskar. A group of expert also conducted a study in Ladakh and published an article in 2008 about the prevalence of Dry Eye at High Altitude. The compared the prevalence of dry in low and high altitude. They found a 20% prevalence in high altitude and 9% in low altitude and the prevalence of dry eye was significantly higher amongst the native population compared to the soldiers recently posted in Ladakh. (1)
The treatment depend on severity of the disease. Increasing indoor humidity, preservation of existing tears by glasses or canalicular occlusion or supplementation by artificial tears are important in the therapy. Patients who do not respond to simple supplementation of tears should be referred to an eye specialist. (1)
Another ophthalmologic problem which is probably frequent due to radiation the cataract disease. The pathologic process is the opacification of the lens and this leads to blindness.
Cataract disease is the leading cause of blindness in the world. Treatment is mainly surgical by implanting an artificial lens. In Zanskar there is no ophthalmologist neither a operating room. Patients have to go to Leh for surgical treatment.
Wearing sunglasses has some protective effect, especially in the early decades of life. (2)
Wearing sunglasses is a common protective action against this two eye diseases. In the case of dry eye it is even therapeutic. In Zanskar it is not possible to buy good sunglasses and even if so, they would not be affordable by the local population. That motivated us to ask Visilab Company for a sponsoring.
Visilab has much concern about eye public health and supports projects in Senagal, Madagascar and Switzerland. One can also give back (sun)-glasses in every Visilab shop for redistribution in the respective projects.
They promptly also supported our sunglasses project! We are happy to distribute the sponsored sunglasses in Zanskar always with a concomitant small teaching about the dry eye and cataract disease. Up to now more Thant thousand sunglasses have been distributed to Zanskar.
(1) Gupta N, Prasad I, Himashree G, D’Souza P.
Prevalence of Dry Eye at High Altitude: A Case Controlled Comparative Sudy. High Alt Med Biol. déc 2008;9(4):327‑33
(2) Neale, Rachel E., Purdie, Jennifer L., Hirst, Lawrence W., Green, Adele C. Sun Exposure as a Risk Factor for Nuclear Cataract. Epidemiology Volume 14(6), November 2003, pp 707-712