Clean, healthy air is a key component to clear vision. However, the connection between air quality and eye health is often overlooked. Dirty, musty, hazy air leads to eye and respiratory problems. Polluted air irritates your eyes, causing short-term and long-term effects.
Bad Air Fare
Eyes are sensitive to dust, mold, soot, and pollen, among other pollutants. Mild symptoms include redness, gritty sensations, burning, itching, mucus discharge, and watering. The more you rub your eyes, the higher the possibility of infections.
Severe eye issues can lead to blurred sight, refractive errors (light doesn’t focus directly on the retina), and impaired color vision.
Poor air quality might also lead to serious eye problems like conjunctivitis, glaucoma, age-related macular degeneration, dry eyes, and cancers.
Whether from large or small outputs, pollution is everywhere.
Vehicle exhaust systems produce large amounts of air pollution, as do factory waste releases, power plants, and construction sites. Large and small metropolitan areas are filled with nitrogen dioxide, carbon monoxide, asbestos, sulfur dioxide, and benzene, among other airborne chemicals. Tobacco smoke from cigarettes, pipes, and cigars are also notable sources of air pollution.
Fire smoke is not only hard on the lungs, but it can mess up your eyes a bit. Wildfire smoke, for example, is an ongoing problem because it doesn’t dissipate quickly, even when the fires are under control. Campfires also dry out your eyes as they burn (stay away from shifting winds). Wildfires and campfires produce dirty, smoky air, eventually leading to poor eye health.
Warm weather brings higher concentrations of dense, polluted air, especially when the sun’s heat reacts with vehicle exhausts. These pollutants become ground-level ozone (the main source of smog)—smoggy, smoky ozone affects the eyes.
Go “Easy” on the Eyes
Easing the effect of poor air quality on your peepers depends on where you are and what you have to do.
Take note when air pollution levels are high—consult your local news, weather source, or Air Quality Index (AQI) for information. Stay inside on hazy, smoggy days.
Wear glasses (not contact lenses) or sunglasses to block the dust–inside and outside. Place a cool towel or gel pack over irritated eyes.’
Over-the-counter tears or lubricating drops help to relieve that dry, dusty, uncomfortable feeling.
Keeping our homes clean is imperative to reducing the polluted air we breathe, but it’s nearly impossible to chase away all the dust and chemicals in the atmosphere. Still, there are ways to freshen the air, such as cleaning air ducts and vacuuming out vents. Open windows bring in fresh air, but they also allow dust and floating debris into your house.
Protect Your Eye Health
Here are ways to keep the elements out of your eyes.
Install air filters or a purification system in your home and office. Humidifiers are helpful, too.
Eat right—fish, legumes, leafy greens, carrots, proteins, and fruits provide proper nutrition for healthy eyes. Eye-specific vitamin supplements are also available.
If you wear contact lenses, clean them thoroughly, at least once a day. Soak lenses in saline solution for at least 6 hours before wearing.
Close windows on hazy, smoky days. If you’re in the car, use the air recirculation button (it’s the button with an arrow turning around) to keep the outside air outside.
Poor air quality may cause simple eye irritation, but when symptoms become severe, it’s time tocall your eye doctor. The health of your eyes is nothing to fool with.
Dry eye disease is not something to be overlooked. Many are unaware that there are real solutions with a real treatment that can help them regain their quality of life. OptiLight by Lumenis® is an efficient and comfortable solution used to address inflammation, a contributing factor to dry eye. To schedule a consultation, visit our website or call our office today.