How does summer’s air affect your eye

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How does summer’s air affect your eye

All over the world, air quality reports are often included in the day’s weather forecast—especially during the summer months, when ozone levels can spike. Although it may bother some people more than others, the eye is vulnerable to the effects of air pollution,1 which means air quality can certainly impact how comfortable your eyes feel. And, depending on how polluted the air is, it can affect your quality of life—particularly when it leads to irritation while you’re wearing your contact lenses.

Of course, there is no easy fix or overnight remedy that will repair the air outside your front door, but there are some simple strategies that can help you find relief for your eyes when air quality is at its worst.

What’s up with the air?

When scientists talk about smog and air pollution, they’re often referring to too much ozone, which seems like a contradiction. After all, ozone forms a protective layer that shields us from the sun’s harmful ultraviolet rays. In other words, ozone is a good thing, right? Yes and no. Ozone can be good or bad, depending on where it is found.

Ozone is an odourless, colourless gas that occurs both in the Earth’s upper atmosphere and at ground level. In the Earth’s lower atmosphere, near ground level, ozone is not formed naturally. Rather, it is formed when pollutants emitted by cars, power plants, industrial boilers, refineries, chemical plants, and other sources react chemically in the presence of sunlight. This ground-level or “bad” ozone is a harmful air pollutant and the main ingredient of urban smog.

When ozone levels are very high, everyone should be concerned about ozone exposure. Ozone pollution is a big concern during the summer months because strong sunlight and hot weather result in harmful ozone concentrations.

Symptoms in the Eye-

The frequent symptoms of air pollution-induced eye problems include:

  • Burning and redness
  • Irritation
  • Watering
  • Itching
  • Gritty sensation
  • Visual difficulties including refractive errors and impaired colour vision
  • Cataracts
  • Cancers

Dry eye syndrome is the most frequent complaint among all these. It occurs two times more often in women above 50 years.  The surface of the eye is inflamed and dry, especially if the patient wears a contact lens.

Can bad air quality make your eyes red?

Poor quality of air containing harmful gases such as carbon monoxide and nitrogen dioxide has led to more people complaining of having red eyes.

Itching, irritations, chronic discomfort and symptoms of dry eye syndrome are consequences of toxic fumes and particles lying on the eye’s outer surface. This damages the tear film and can result in severe complications.

How can we protect our eyes from air pollution?

We can minimise eye symptoms in a polluted environment with:

  • Wearing high-quality sunglasses to prevent pollutants from getting in your eyes. Butterfly and wrap lenses are particularly useful as they cover a larger surface of the eye.
  • Avoiding the outdoors when pollution is at its peak.
  • Relieving discomfort using eye drops to soothe irritation and dry eyes.
  • If you wear contact lenses, clean your lenses thoroughly to ensure your contacts are disinfected and any particles are removed.