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ARTICLE
Year : 1968  |  Volume : 16  |  Issue : 4  |  Page : 249-250

Salt-pan keratitis


Madurai Medical College, Madurai, India

Date of Web Publication24-Dec-2007

Correspondence Address:
C Venkataswamy
Madurai Medical College, Madurai
India
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Source of Support: None, Conflict of Interest: None


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How to cite this article:
Venkataswamy C. Salt-pan keratitis. Indian J Ophthalmol 1968;16:249-50

How to cite this URL:
Venkataswamy C. Salt-pan keratitis. Indian J Ophthalmol [serial online] 1968 [cited 2020 Aug 9];16:249-50. Available from: http://www.ijo.in/text.asp?1968/16/4/249/37567

Salt-pans are places where sea water or underground water with high concentration of Sodium Chlo­ride is collected and allowed to eva­porate by exposure to sun and wind. In the coast of Tirunelveli District, in and around Tuticorin thousands of acres of land are utilitised for pro­duction of salt. Originally salt was found in sea water but later it was found that the underground water contains more salt. Now they have bored holes into the earth through which the underground water is pumped to the surface. The ground is levelled with a slight slope towards one direction. The land is divided into squares of 20-25 feet called `pans' and from one pan the water drains into the other pan. The underground water comes into the first pan in the field where by evaporation it be­comes more concentrated and its specific gravity gradually increases. It is let out into the second and sub­sequently into the third and fourth pans in the field. In the last pan where its specific gravity is high, sodium chloride separates into crystals. In the first pan magnesium crystals preci­pitate and appear like white, needle­like crystals. This is collected and sent for use for other industries.

More than 20-30 thousand workers are employed in the salt-pans in these areas. The occupations in the salt­pans are of various types. Those who work in the salt-field, walk in salt­water, measure the specific gravity of the brine periodically and let out the brine from one pan to the other. The crystals which separate lie on the earth and are collected by wooden showels with long handles. The va­rious types of salts are carried in bas­kets by people and stored in a central place till they become dry. Then other groups of workers fill the salts in gunny bags and weigh them for transport. The collection of salt is usually done in the summer months of the year when there is no rain. During the month of May, there is heavy wind in the salt-pan areas and to prevent sand getting mixed up with the salt they keep the earth moist by sprinkling water. This is usually done by small boys and girls between the ages of 12 and 15 years.

Salt-pan Keratitis.

The employees and the workers have been familiar for a number of years with the eye trouble associated with the salt-pans. I surveyed 500 workers in the salt-field in one day and found 10 of them suffering from Keratitis. The cornea is affected in the centre with no signs of inflamma­tion and appears like dystrophy. Gradually the vision gets diminished in both eyes and the person leaves his job as he becomes nearly blind. In the local Tuticorin Government Hos­pital, there is one Ophthalmologist. He says that he gets these patients almost every day in the Out-patient's department and the condition is not amenable to treatment.

Those who work in the pans are constantly complaining of burning sensation and watering of the eyes. Also the pans containing white crys­talline salt reflect strong sunlight as one finds in snow. The industry has tried to provide protective goggles to prevent this salt-pan keratitis. The glasses are heavy and are uncomfor­able. In the hot sun, because of pers­piration it is not comfortable to wear these protective glasses.

The exact cause of the corneal affection is also not known. In one case we tried to do a corneal grafting but the graft failed to take. These changes may be due to some chemi­cals like sodium chloride or magne­sium salt, etc. which get deposited in the cornea and produces a reactive necrosis, which needs further study.




 

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