Air Pollution and Industrial Emissions Are Causing Incidence of Cataract Cases


An increasing number of studies and toxicological evidence has shown that burning of solid fossil fuels is associated with cataract formation. Harmful environmental toxic compounds cause “ocular irritation” or irritation in the eyes and prolonged exposure can lead to development of early cataract.

However, in recent times, technological advancement in eye care and development of intraocular lenses (IOLs) such as extended range of vision (ERV), it is possible for patients to resume a completely normal life post cataract surgery with nearly perfect vision. IOLs replace the natural eye lenses after cataract surgery for enhanced vision.

Dr Arup Kr Bose, Senior Ophthalmologist at EMLC Hospital, Hooghly says “I treat around 180 cataract patients a month and we are aware that old age is not the sole determinant of cataract. Bijoy Das, a 38-year-old patient, recently visited us with symptoms of ocular irritation, itchiness and blurred vision. He complained of experiencing blurred vision, redness and itchiness surrounding his right eye for a few weeks, and the condition failed to resolve on its own. Examination revealed a chronic conjunctivitis, dry eyes with bilateral cataract. Since cataract is generally considered to be driven by age-related changes, Bijoy was an unusual patient who was reporting with the condition at the age of 38 years. Further enquiries revealed that the patient was employed in city’s industrial area, and prolonged and unprotected exposure to harmful chemicals and toxic emissions led to the development of early cataract.”


With an increasing number of cataract patients opting to work and lead active lifestyles, cataract and the available surgical options till recently was considered to cause hindrance in leading a normal life. Fortunately, doctors had ERV IOLs as an alternative option for Bijoy.

Dr Arup Kr Bose says “In the case of Bijoy, who is relatively young with an active lifestyle and had requirements of a wide range of vision, we preferred to use extended range of vision (ERV) intraocular lenses (IOLs) during cataract surgery. He eagerly talks about having faced hurdles in his professional life and how ERV IOL lenses provided him a delightful contrast and clarity of vision. Commended as the next revolution in eye care, this U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) approved technology reportedly provides seamless day and night vision for all near to far distances without causing any discomfort while adjusting eyes.”

Previously through conventional multifocal lenses, the quality of vision would get reduced due to division of light. These lenses reportedly caused high incidences of halos and glare, which are bright rings and sharp light which interferes with visual quality and the frequent need of wearing glasses did not completely fulfill the purpose of getting the lenses implanted. On the other hand, the new ERV technology gives a perfect balance of contrast, light, near, far and even intermediate vision.

The ERV IOLs also lower the incidence of halos and glare which usually hampers a person’s ability to drive at night. In multifocal lenses 18-20% of the light is lost but in ERV IOL lenses, the intermediate vision’s clarity is commendable.

As per a recent report, Kolkata by emitting 14.8 million tons of emissions of greenhouse gases (GHG) is the fifth highest amongst the major cities for GHG emissions in the country. The GHG emissions in India rose by 4.7% in 2016, and the country shares around 7% of world GHG emissions. The major reasons for high pollution levels in Kolkata are automobile exhausts, which contribute approximately 50%, and industrial emissions which contribute about 48% of the total GHG emissions in the city. The remaining 2% is contributed by cooking.

There is an utter need for awareness around eye care. Regular checkups, especially for diabetic patients are imperative. People need to be aware of the hazardous surroundings they are living in.Toxic compounds emitted from fuels are widespread in India. The toxic air can result in trachoma and glaucoma as well. Prevention of cataract and chronic dry eye is thus possible with healthy and adopting eco-friendly lifestyles.