The early morning religious ritual of sun gazing may be causing patients in India to experience chronic solar retinopathy with macular changes and a decrease in visual acuity, according to a speaker at the American Society of Retina Specialists 36thannual meeting in Vancouver, Canada.

“Sun gazing as a ritual can cause chronic solar retinopathy. Macular changes on OCT and fundus are very characteristic. Any person with these characteristic macular changes should always be asked about sun gazing,” ophthalmologist Dr Shaileen Parikh, DO, of Ahmedabad, India, said at the meeting.

The retrospective case series presented included 36 patients who were examined after complaining of a mild decrease in visual acuity or were seen for a routine eye examination.

Best corrected visual acuity of the cohort ranged from 20/20 to 20/80, with a mean of 20/40, Dr Parikh said.

Thirty patients were found to have a history of sun gazing for more than one year, he said.

After a fundus examination, Dr Parikh said 70.8% of eyes had subretinal yellowish deposits and 59.7% had retinal pigment epithelium mottling; mean central foveal thickness in the cohort was 175 µm.

Other common OCT findings were central foveal thinning, lamellar macular holes and a collection of materials with hyperreflectivity in the foveal space, he said.