Does Air Quality Affect Your Eyes?

Learn about how air quality affects your eyes.

Our eyes are sensitive, and air quality can actually have an enormous impact on their health.

How Can Air Pollution Affect Your Eyes?
Air pollutants can have a negative impact on your health in every area, but they are particularly hard on your eyes: The structures and tissues located on the surface are exposed to these air toxins.
This includes:
- The cornea (the clear, protective layer of the eye)
- The sclera (the white part of the eye)
- The eye's natural lens

Unfortunately, these parts of the eye are extremely sensitive to pollutants in the environment.

When exposed to these irritants, you may experience:
- Discomfort
- Inflammation
- Blurry symptoms
The Types of Air Pollution That Affect Eye Health

There are several kinds of air pollution that could potentially affect your eye health.

These include:
- Air quality
- Sun exposure
- Humidity

Air pollution can have an effect both inside and outside.

There are quite a few forms of air toxins, including:
- Dry air and wind
- Smog
- Pollen
- Dust (inside and outside)
- Aerosol sprays (hairsprays, household cleaners, etcetera)
- Humidity and other weather factors
- Wildfire smoke
- Increased ultraviolet exposure (exposure to UV rays)
- Traffic-related air pollutants: Nitrogen dioxide and carbon monoxide given off by car exhaust
- Charcoal and wood-burning fires
- Crop-clearing fires
- Cigarette smoke inside or outside
- Soot
- Fumes and emissions from power plants, construction sites, and industrial processes
- Other airborne pollutants, particles, and irritants

Unfortunately, some areas contain more air pollutants than others, but many places are prone to contributing to eye irritation: Sandy beaches have saltier air, while cities generally contain a lot of smog. On the other hand, dry, arid climates are usually quite fragile when it comes to wildfires.

What Are The Affects of Air Pollution On The Eyes?

Air pollution can potentially have a very negative impact on your eye health.

Short-term symptoms include:
- Worsened eye allergies and a higher risk of allergic conjunctivitis
- Redness in the eyes
- Dry eyes (This is especially possible for people who wear contact lenses)Itching, burning, and other irritation
- Blurred vision
- Eye redness
- Blurred vision
- Watery eyes

If left untreated, these can potentially lead to long-term side effects, such as:
- Dry eye syndrome
- Cataracts
- Glaucoma
- Blepharitis
- Meibomian gland dysfunction
- Eye stroke or retinal vein occlusion
- Age-related macular degeneration (AMD)
- Trachoma

To avoid these horrible long-term symptoms, you should see an optometrist as soon as possible if you begin experiencing any short-term side effects that are cause for concern.

How To Protect Your Eyes

Fortunately, there are quite a few ways to protect your eyes from air pollution.

You might want to implement the following practices:
- Wear your glasses instead of your contacts, especially if you are in an area with a lot of pollution that is affecting your eyes
- Wear UV-protective sunglasses and a sun hat to protect yourself
- Avoid jogging in areas with heavy traffic whenever possible
- Make sure you wear protective goggles if you are doing yardwork or similar outdoor activities
- Avoid rubbing or scratching your eyes if you come into contact with air toxins
- Wash your hands frequently to avoid the spread of bacteria from your hands to your eyes
- If the air quality is low, stay inside whenever possible
- Keep your car windows closed when driving to avoid eye irritation from wind and debris
- Practice good contact lens hygiene

Please call us for more information. We are eager to assist you in every way we can!