The Effects Of Air Quality And Wildfire Smoke On Your Ocular Health

Each year, big cities and rural areas throughout the Bay Area are having to face the fact that the air quality is getting worse. Even more worrisome is the trend of annual wildfires compromising the air we breathe. Taking precautions to protect your eye health has never been more necessary.

Our eyes tend to be the most neglected part of our bodies when it comes to exposure to environmental pollutants. During the Northern California wildfires, you and those you know might have worn face masks to avoid breathing in dangerous smoke and ash. Unlike your nose and mouth, it is much harder to cover and protect your eyes while maintaining your everyday activities. 

Harmful substances found in the air appear to have significant adverse effects on the surface of human eyes due to it being exposed more often than not. Wildfire smoke can affect various parts of our eyes in different ways.

Common Side Effects of Environmental Pollutants on Your Eyes

  • Tear production is halted due to clogged ducts
  • Corneal irritation or abrasions
  • Redness and inflammation
  • Acute conjunctivitis
  • Chronic dry eye
  • Burning or itching 
  • Blurred vision or other visual impairments

Can There Be Any Asymptomatic Effects of Wildfire Smoke on My Eyes?

While the Tubbs and Kincade fires occurred months and even years ago, many people living with chronic eye conditions do so asymptomatically. It has been found that roughly 26% of people suffering from ocular issues showed no symptoms, and went undiagnosed until examined by an eye doctor.

Who is the Most At-Risk for the Effects Bad Air Quality?

The people most at risk for the negative effects of poor air quality are children and people living with chronically suppressed immune systems. Additionally, pregnant women, people who work outdoors, and the elderly face increased issues related to air quality and their eye health.

What are the Potential Long Term Effects of Wildfire Smoke on My Eye Health?

Long term exposure to air pollutants of any kind can lead to damage to your eyes or irreversible vision problems. Your eye is protected by a very thin membrane and if it is subjected to continued exposure to irritants it can become compromised. It is common for people to develop chronic eye irritations when its natural defenses are constantly tormented.

Chronic eye conditions associated with long term exposure to poor air quality range from acute to severe illness. Persistent dry eye is most commonly reported by people living in areas with poor air quality. Studies have also linked the development of age-related macular degeneration and other eye diseases to environmental pollutants.

How Do I Reduce the Effects of Wildfire Smoke on My Eyes?

During a natural disaster such as a wildfire, it is important to take precautions to reduce your eyes’ vulnerability. While it can be impossible to completely refrain from going outdoors, there are a number of ways to protect your eyes from the effects of pollutants.

How to Protect Your Eyes from Wildfire Smoke

  • Seek professional eye care by attending routine eye exams 
  • Invest in a high-quality air filtration system in your home and workplace
  • Have a humidifier in your home and workplace
  • Take plenty of omega-3 fatty acids
  • Limit your time outdoors on smokey or smoggy days
  • Wear protective eyewear when outside 
  • Rinse your eyes regularly
  • Wash your content lenses regularly

Contact LaserVue Eye Center for a Routine Eye Exam

To ensure your overall health, it is essential to take the steps necessary to protect your eyes from environmental air pollutants, like wildfire smoke. The best precaution you can take when you live in an area like Northern California, which is so prone to wildfires, is scheduling regular eye examinations. Visit one of our three LaserVue Eye Centers in the Bay Area or contact us online to schedule a free consultation today.