Poor air pollution is often associated with health problems related to the respiratory system. However, air pollution can also have a negative impact on eye health, including the appearance of dry eyes. So, how do you prevent dry eyes from air pollution?

The impact of air pollution on eye health

According to WHO, air pollution is the greatest environmental health risk. Not only respiratory problems, the impact of air pollution can cause symptoms or signs of eye disease. Starting from eye irritation, dry eyes, to discomfort that occurs continuously. Reporting from a study published in the Journal of Ocular Infection and Inflammation, this condition can occur due to the presence of ozone (O3). However, the ozone here is not the ozone layer which is part of the earth’s atmosphere.

Ozone in question is a type of pollutant above the ground surface which is the result of the sun’s reaction with primary pollutants, such as NO and NO2.
Well, the pollutants in air pollution can be carried over long distances and cause long-term adverse effects on human health, including eye health.

A study once showed an increase in air pollution levels which were thought to be due to NO and NO2, causing an increase in cases of ophthalmological emergencies (eye disorders) in people in Paris, France. Ozone levels in air pollution can enter the lacrimal gland which functions as a producer of tears, then change the pH. As a result, irritation of the mucous membranes of the eye may occur.

Air pollution itself is not only produced outdoors, but also indoors. For example, some electronic machines, such as air conditioners and refrigerators, can produce pollutants called CFCs or chlorofluorocarbons, which can also threaten eye health.

What eye diseases are caused by air pollution?

As previously mentioned, air pollution can cause eye disease symptoms. For example, eye irritation, dry eyes, red and itchy eyes, to discomfort that occurs continuously. Irritants, including dust particles, exposure to polluting fumes (cigarette or motor vehicle smoke), wind, and a dry climate can increase tear evaporation.

If exposed to excess, these irritants can cause red, watery, and dry eyes. That is why, those of you who are often outdoors more often experience red and dry eyes at the same time due to wind when driving, or maybe dust that accidentally enters.

How to prevent dry eyes from exposure to air pollution

Eye irritation or dry eyes can certainly happen to anyone. Moreover, for those of you who live in big cities and often do outdoor activities.

Fortunately, there are several ways to prevent dry eyes from exposure to air pollution that you can do. Here’s the explanation.

Wear protective glasses

One way to prevent dry eyes and eye irritation is to wear protective glasses. The use of glasses serves to reduce the entry of dust particles or other irritants into the eyes. You can also wear sunglasses to reduce your exposure to ultraviolet (UV) rays. This needs to be done especially for those of you who travel using public transportation or outdoor activities so as to allow the eyes to be exposed to various harmful pollutants from vehicle fumes.

Avoid rubbing your eyes

Dust particles or irritants that enter the eye can sometimes cause an itching sensation. Although often unbearable, you are not advised to rub your eyes. The reason is, the habit of rubbing the eyes can actually exacerbate irritation, even causing a hot sensation in the eyes. Especially if you rub your eyes with hands that have not been washed with soap and water, there is a risk of infection due to the transfer of bacteria from your hands to your eyes. If you feel that dirt has entered your eye, you can run clean water on your eye.

Use a cold compress

Instead of rubbing your eyes to deal with eye complaints due to air pollution, you can use a clean cloth that has been soaked in cold water, then wipe it on your eyes. You can also use ice cubes wrapped in a clean cloth. This step is believed to relieve itchy and inflamed eyes due to exposure to pollutants.

drink a lot of water

If you’re dehydrated because you’re not drinking enough water, it can make it harder for your eyes to produce a basal tear film. You are advised to drink lots of water as a way to prevent dry eyes from exposure to air pollution.
Drinking lots of water can hydrate the body, including the eyes, by removing harmful toxins from the body.

Have eye drops on the go

The eye has a corneal layer that serves to protect dry, itchy eyes, and exposure from bacteria and other harmful pollutants. For that, there’s nothing wrong with you always carrying eye drops every time you travel. The eye drops for dry and red eyes used contain artificial tears. Use dry and red eye drops whenever you feel your eyes start to dry, red, and itchy. Dropping 2-3 times at regular intervals during the day can also help relax the eye muscles.

Get your eyes checked by a doctor

Regular eye exams can be a way to prevent dry, red, and itchy eyes from pollution that can be done next. Especially if you experience dry eye problems or eye irritation that does not go away, consulting an ophthalmologist to get proper treatment needs to be done immediately. An examination to the doctor can also identify the presence of the disease so that you can get treatment early before the condition worsens.