Public health appears to be suffering as a result of the daily increase in air pollution, not only in terms of respiratory illnesses but also due to pollution’s negative effects on the eyes. Our eyes are delicate and vulnerable to irritation from allergens, toxins, and airborne contaminants. In reality, a variety of eye disorders, from minor eye irritation to serious allergies, are caused by high levels of pollutants and an increase in PM2.5 levels.
“The tear coating of the eye becomes more acidic when Sox and Nox are present in the air. With high pollution levels, we may see or experience redness, itching, and burning of the eyes. It may also result in conjunctivitis and eye allergies, which, if not addressed in a timely manner, may even result in corneal issues that impair vision,” says Prof. Dr. Mahipal Singh Sachdev - Chairman and Managing Director, Centre For Sight.
Compromised quality of air contains harmful gases such as carbon monoxide, nitrogen dioxide and coarse dust particles. This has led to more number of people complaining of red and watery eyes and eye allergies during this time of the year. On frequent exposure these can result in subclinical ocular surface changes, resulting in long term itching, red and watery eyes. “Cornea and conjunctiva are sensitive outer layers which are only protected from the air pollutants by a thin layer of tear film. As a result, they are prone to develop irritation and inflammation on exposure to particulate matter and result in frequent allergic conjunctivitis,” adds Dr. Ajay Sharma, Chief Medical Director, Eye-Q.
Dr Sachdev explains the problems caused by air pollution which are currently being seen in patients:
- Watery eyes
- Irritation in eyes
- Swelling in eyes
- Red eyes
- Burning and Itching sensation in eyes
Excessive UV exposure may play a role in the development of a number of eye conditions, including cataract, pterygium (tissue growth on the surface of the eye), skin cancer around the eye, sunburn of the cornea – known as photokeratitis, corneal degenerative changes and macular degeneration.
Dr Sharma shares ways to reduce the impact of it:
- Avoid rubbing your eyes even if particulates enter, wash your eyes thoroughly with water
- Apply a cool compress to reduce inflammation
- Usage of lubricating eye drops as advised by eye doctor can also offer some comfort
- Wearing of sunglasses while being outdoors
- Avoid wearing contact lens and eye makeup if your eyes are feeling sore
- The first line of defence is to limit exposure to pollution
- Eating a healthy diet i.e. salads and vegetables like carrots. Increase your intake of meals high in omega-3, antioxidants, and water to maintain your eyes’ natural lubrication.
- Drinking ample amount of water
- Quit smoking and avoiding passive smoking
- Avoiding visiting industrial areas where pollution level is high
- Keeping car window closed during peak traffic hours and turning car off during red light
- Maintaining proper hygiene with frequent hand washing and keeping air purifiers at home
- When outside, protect your eyes by using safety goggles and sunglasses. If your eyes are painful, stay away from contact lenses and eye makeup.
- Visit an ophthalmologist even for the tiniest issues
Read all the Latest Lifestyle News here