The eyes, being sensitive organs of our body, need utmost care. With changes in climatic conditions, eyes encounter a lot of stress, leading to complications in many. Air pollution, unhindered in many developing countries due to massive construction activities and overpopulation, has affected eye health. Unlike asthma, which is much discussed due to the rise in air pollution, eye health due to air pollution is also in the limelight these days.



Winters in many parts of India are linked with air pollution due to stubble burning in the northern part of the country, pollution from vehicles, construction-related activities across the country, etc. Eye being sensitive comes under the direct impact of air pollution.


Air pollution can be in many forms, like fog and smog that contains carbon monoxide, nitrogen dioxide, sulfur dioxide, asbestos, benzene, particulate matter, arsenic, lead, dioxin, and chlorofluorocarbons along with smoke, which can act as irritants when it comes to in contact with the eyes.



Having red, itchy eyes after a post-morning walk brings much-needed stress and strain to the eyes. Ultimately, it leads to dry eye syndrome. Pollution prevents the eyes from forming enough tears where the eyes are not moistened and appropriately nourished. The tiny particles can melt with tears, coating the eye’s surface and resulting in adverse effects. Enduring long exposure could lead to an increased risk of infections as well. Air pollution may exacerbate dry eye disease.


Role of indoor air pollution

Only outdoor pollution is not to be blamed for eye health. Indoor air pollution has a more prominent role to play. Indoor air pollution can be in the form of tobacco smoking, heating, cooking, or poor indoor ventilation, leading to several eye diseases. The eye diseases include conjunctivitis, glaucoma, cataracts, age-related macular degeneration, ocular disease, glaucoma, retinopathy, maculopathy, cataracts, uveitis, etc.


Indoor tobacco smoking in the form of cigarettes also results in symptoms such as itchiness, redness, and irritation of the eyes. Cataracts have extensively been linked to cigarette smoking.



To mitigate the crisis

With pollution levels unabated, special care must be taken to ensure eye health remains intact. Wearing sunglasses while venturing out, applying eye drops in consultation with medicos, cleaning eyes with water occasionally, etc, can mitigate the crisis to some level. Though various research activities are being undertaken to know more about the exposure patterns and ocular effects, time is running high before things turn worse when maintaining healthy eyes.