Zee Media Bureau
New Delhi: Air pollution, which is a mixture of natural and man-made substances in the air we breathe, can affect humans, plants and animals. Air pollution has been linked to a wide array of health effects. Among them are heart disease, stroke, lung cancer, both chronic and acute respiratory diseases, including asthma.
The national capital, Delhi, has been witnessing high levels of air pollution for around two weeks after Diwali celebrations, putting its residents at high health risks, especially the elderly, children and people with respiratory illnesses.
But did you also know how air pollution impacts your eyes and vision? Polluted air can increase your risk of eye problems, ranging from simple irritation and burning to severe allergy, cataract and even cancer. The most common ones being redness, itching and burning sensation, watering eye, difficulty in vision, discharge, allergic reaction, including severe itching, eyelid swelling and risk of conjunctivitis.
Studies have also linked high air pollution levels to increased occurrences of dry eye syndrome. Dry eye syndrome is a chronic condition in which your eyes can’t produce the right amount of tears to stay wet. This lack of moisture makes your eyes feel gritty, scratchy, or itchy, or produces a burning sensation.
While you can’t always prevent dry eye syndrome as acquiring of this condition increases with age, there are many steps you can take to minimise your risk of infections. These include:
- Wearing sunglasses or goggles while outdoors.
- Avoiding vigorous eye rubbing in case of irritation.
- Taking plenty of fluids to stay hydrated - if you don’t have enough water in your body, you won't be able to produce the amount of tears you need for pain-free eyes.
- Using lubricating eye drops given by eye specialists.
- Not wearing contact lens and eye makeup if eyes are feeling sore.
- Not smoking since cigarette smoke quickly dries out your eyes and cause constant eye irritation.
- Installing a high-quality air filter at home to keep outdoor air pollutants out of your nest.
Besides following the above guidelines, you can reduce your risk of eye infections by minimising your exposure to outdoor air pollutants and staying indoors as much as possible.