What damage does air pollution cause to your eyes?

What damage does air pollution cause to your eyes?
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What Air Pollution does to your eye?

There is no denying that the eye is one of the most sensitive and delicate organs in the human body making it more susceptible to air pollution than any other organ. Airborne pollutants in the air cause various eye and respiratory problems which can lead to severe health issues including chronic pain when undiagnosed in the absence of symptoms and signs in a number of cases. Most common air pollutants include carbon monoxide, nitrogen dioxide, sulphur dioxide, arsenic, asbestos, benzene, lead, chlorofluorocarbons, particulate matter and dioxin. Although invisible, exposure to these pollutants can cause serious conditions like redness, watery eyes, burning, irritation and itchy sensation. Although inhalation of these pollutants can be checked by wearing face masks, the eye remains exposed; a large number of people frequently report eye discomfort for no particular reason. Our specialists at the Department of Ophthalmology at Yashoda Hospital & Research Centre, Nehru Nagar, Ghaziabad, deeply concerned with this rapid rise in reports regarding eye infection caused by air pollution, bring to you the basic information and ways for prevention to protect your eye from unnecessary suffering.


Our specialists bring before you some of the most common factors that cause various eye infections due to the presence of or exposure of the eye to air pollutants in various forms:

  • High levels of hydrocarbons and nitric oxide in the air cause severe discomfort and irritation. Most common hydrocarbon chemicals include C4 and C5 olefins which have comparatively stronger effects on the eye.
  • Pollutants produced due to automobile exhaust which causes eye irritation up to 4 hours on direct exposure. The levels of these irritants are unaffected by alterations in humidity or temperature but the degree of irritation depends upon the type of fuel used.
  • Exposure to sulphur dioxide and trioxide at subthreshold concentrations with sodium chloride or carbon black particles precipitates which cause irritation to the eye.
  • Exposure of the eye to cyclohexene in the atmosphere causing extreme irritation.
  • High presence of aerosol in the air.
  • Exposure to oxidants such as sodium perborate, hydrogen peroxide, nitrous oxide and potassium nitrate can cause the tear film in the eye to dissolve and acidify it, harming the mucous membrane of the eye.

Signs & Symptoms

Some of the most common signs to watch out for eye infections triggered by air pollution are as follows:

  • Burning sensation
  • Redness in the eye
  • Irritation
  • Watery eyes
  • Itching
  • High tendency of infections
  • Uncontrolled discharge from the eye
  • Visual impairment such as abnormal colour vision and refractive errors – Difficulty in opening the eyes
  • Frequent allergies causing swelling and itching
  • Clouding of the normally clear lens of the eye, i.e. cataract – Various forms of cancers
  • Common case of conjunctivitis
  • Dryness, gritty feeling of foreign body in the eye

What to do?

The treatment for eye infections will vary depending on the cause of it. Although cooling of the eyes by washing them gently with clean water is the first home remedy one may rely on, the best advice our hospital recommends is to immediately consult with eye specialist as soon as the symptoms begin to show. Below is a list of preventive measures you need to take in order to avoid as well as treat to reduce the eye infection mainly caused by air pollution:

  • Avoid staying outdoors on days when public health warning signals toxic or high pollution levels in the air. In case of inevitable exposure, wear protective eyeglasses to ensure minimum exposure to pollutants.
  • Wash your hands often and avoid touching your eyes directly. – Stay hydrated to promote tear formation to prevent dryness and irritation in the eye.
  • Maintain a balanced diet and do not compromise on intake of foods rich in Omega 3 fatty acids such as green leafy vegetables, carrots, nuts and fish.
  • Avoid rubbing your eyes.
  • In case of extreme dryness, consult your eye specialist for eye drops to keep your eyes lubricated.
  • Cut down your screen hours as much as your circumstances allow. – Ensure that ample rest is given to your eye to avoid unnecessary eye fatigue or computer vision syndrome.
  • Avoid using contact lenses until infection heals.
  • Avoid using eye makeup when your eyes feel uncomfortable since this may cause further infections. Remove all makeup thoroughly to avoid any chemical infections on normal days.
  • Avoid opening the windows of cars during peak hours of traffic.

Whom to Consult?

Persistence of any symptoms calls for immediate consultation with an eye specialist since delayed or ignored treatment will lead to severe eye damage that may even cost you your eyesight. Severe exposure to high levels of air pollutants can cause different eye diseases, including dry eye syndrome, conjunctivitis and retinal vessels occlusion. Although eye diseases may not decrease life expectancy directly, a neglected case is bound to decrease life quality. Our specialists at the Ophthalmology Unit in Yashoda Super Speciality Hospital & Research Centre are extensively trained with the latest treatment for any eye condition caused by any factor.
For any query on eye infection related to air pollutants, please reach out to us on our official website www.yashodahealthcare.com or book an appointment with our highly trained eye specialist, Dr. Arpit Pavaiya by calling us on 9810922042.

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Yashoda Hospital

Yashoda Hospital

Yashoda Hospital is one of the best super specialty hospitals in Ghaziabad, Noida & Delhi NCR. Yashoda Hospital aims at providing the best healthcare services across the country and not just in Delhi NCR, Ghaziabad & Noida. Being a super speciality hospital, Yashoda Hospital has a number of dedicated specialities under one roof- gastroenterology, general surgery, obstetrics & gynaecology, cardiology, pulmonology & internal medicine, orthopedics, urology and many more.

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