- The adverse effects of particulate matter and other environmental pollutants are well known and their effects on the respiratory and circulatory systems have generally been stressed. However, the effects of air pollution on the ocular system has not been still systematically approached or emphasised; although ocular surface is even more exposed to air pollution than the respiratory mucosa since only a very thin tear film separates the corneal and conjunctival epithelia from the air pollutants.
- Air pollution in cities is emerging as the major reason behind the rise in eye allergies and conjunctivitis in people of all ages.
- The problem is serious, because if conjunctivitis and allergies are not treated in time they can lead to cornea problems affecting vision.
- “Almost all age groups are being affected by air pollution. Majority of patients are young children, middle aged and senior citizens. Air pollution affects them badly and results in eye irritation and sometimes in redness, and watery eyes
- As the dry winter days have arrived, followed by a hot summer, the incidence of eye problems like dryness, burning sensation, watering, redness and allergic conditions increase. This is more evident in urban areas.
The major air pollutants in any big city are
- Carbon monoxide
- Nitrogen dioxide
- Sulphur dioxide
Effects of air pollution on eyes
There is a spectrum of symptoms occurring due to air pollution. It may range from simple irritation and burning to severe allergy, cataract and even cancer. The most common problems are
- Burning sensation
- Ropy discharge
- Itching sensation
- Dry, gritty sensation
- Difficulty in vision due to watering and itching
- Allergic reaction: Severe itching, redness, discharge, eyelid swelling, inability to open eyes, vision problem and risk of infection (conjunctivitis, ulcers).
Management of eye symptoms
The golden rule in case of eye irritation is to avoid vigorous eye rubbing so as to prevent increased allergy and chance of contacting infection.
Few helpful tips include
- Cool compress to closed eyes
- Frequent use of lubricating eye drops (Use Entyce Regularly)
- Sunglasses outdoors
- Avoid direct splashing of water to open eyes
- Avoid contact lens and eye makeup if eyes are feeling sore.