More cases of allergic conjunctivitis and dry eyes recorded in Malaysia due to haze

More cases of allergic conjunctivitis and dry eyes recorded in Malaysia due to haze

The haze has caused cases of allergic conjunctivitis and dry eyes to increase.

Head of the Health Ministry's Ophthalmology Services, Dr Nor Fariza Ngah, said government eye clinics in the country saw a 30 per cent rise in outpatient visits during the haze season.

"The haze has caused a spike in the number of outpatients seeking ophthalmology services, mostly for allergic conjunctivitis, in our hospitals.

"It is not contagious but it causes discomfort as well as red and watery eyes. There is also an increase in the incidence of dry eyes.

"Some hospitals see a doubling in the number of outpatient visits.

"For example, the Shah Alam Hospital saw up to 80 cases of conjunctivitis (per day), up from the usual 40 cases, " said Dr Nor Fariza at a press conference at the sidelines of the World Patient Safety Day Malaysia event here yesterday.

The event was launched by Health Minister Datuk Seri Dr Dzulkefly Ahmad.

Dr Nor Fariza said those with asthma are more prone to haze-related illnesses.

"Usually, we advise our patients to apply artificial tears and also to reduce outdoor exposure, " she said.

Allergic conjunctivitis is an inflammation of the conjunctiva due to allergy, and it happens when a person's eye comes into contact with an allergen, causing it to become sore, inflamed and sometimes painful.

Dzulkefly said the ministry's health facilities are prepared for the inevitable increase in outpatient visits during the haze season.

"The Health director-general will continuously update the public through announcements on our social media sites as well as press statements, " he said.

Malaysian Medical Association president Dr N. Ganabaskaran said there has been an increase in skin diseases, asthma and allergic rhinitis in private clinics, but he did not have the exact data.

"There are also cases of skin rashes, exacerbation of eczema, cough and wheezing in asthma patients, and worsening of influenza-like symptoms in allergic rhinitis, and sore eyes," he said, adding that it is important to address the situation with sustainable solutions to open burning.

On the message for the World Patient Safety Day Malaysia, Dzulkefly said it is important for the ministry, Health Department, hospitals and clinics to invest in efficient risk reduction strategies and improve the safety culture.

"Patients are harmed when healthcare staff fail to clean hands, when medicines are given to the wrong patient, wrong dosage or when standard procedures are not followed during surgery.

"The time has come for all of us at every level of healthcare system to make patient safety our priority," he said in his keynote address earlier.


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