Image of pollution in Delhi

How Air Pollution Affects Your Eyes? Helpful Tips to Take Care of Your Vision.

Posted on November 22, 2017

Levels of toxic air pollution in Delhi and the surrounding areas are on the rise and if experts are to be believed, the air we all are inhaling is laden with obnoxious gases and harmful pollutants. Some studies on the pollution have revealed that the air quality in NCR is as bad a smoking forty cigarettes in a day. This extreme pollution in the form of smog affects our respiratory systems, causes allergies and damages our eyes. Compromised quality of air contains harmful gases such as carbon monoxide, nitrogen dioxide and coarse dust particles which have to lead to more number of people complaining of red and watery eyes and various eye allergies.

What is smog and how it can affect your health?

Smog is a dense layer of air which forms near the ground when air pollution is high. It is a common phenomenon in built-up cities where traffic is high or areas near industries with high emissions. Smog is formed when sunlight reacts with the gases (car fumes/ industrial emissions) in the lower atmosphere. Some people are more sensitive to its effects than others including those with lung or heart complaints. The first signs of health problems caused due to smog are irritation in nose, throat, lungs, and eyes. In some cases, breathing can also be impacted.

The human eye can get affected by even the slightest level of pollution, and therefore the moment we come into the contact of air pollution, the blanket of poisonous gases and harmful substances can cause a range of eye infections. The ones who spend most of their day involved in the outdoor activities are affected by air pollution the most. It can also have harmful implications for school going children and people who prefer an early morning walk; hence it recommends staying indoors and avoiding any strenuous exercises when the air quality is poor. The reason being it does more harm to the body than any good.

The most common eye conditions caused due to air pollution/ smog are:

  • Watery eyes
  • Burning sensation
  • Redness
  • Swelling
  • Dry eyes
  • Itching
  • Allergic reactions

Studies have also linked high levels of pollution to dry eye syndrome which is a chronic condition in which eyes are unable to produce the right amount of tears to stay wet. Hence, the lack of moisture makes your eyes feel itchy and causes a burning sensation. In extreme cases, this dryness can even damage the surface of the eyes which can cause vision problems. Eye infections should not be ignored and a doctor should be consulted if you experience, redness, watery eyes, irritation and blurred vision before it is too late. While you can’t prevent dry eye syndrome as the chances of acquiring it increase with pollution and age, there are many steps to that can be of help to minimize the risk of infections. Let’s know what these are:

  • Stay up to date with the weather forecasts and smog; keep a check on the daily air quality index. If possible try to avoid visiting the areas where air quality is poor. If it is difficult to avoid visiting such places, stay indoors and keeps doors and windows closed.
  • Though exercises are good for health, avoid them in smoggy conditions, when ground ozone levels are at their peak.
  • Wash your hands often and try not to touch your eyes
  • Stay hydrated as it will aid in adequate tear formation. It becomes imperative when external factors such as smog increase your chances of dry eyes and eye irritation. Drinking eight to ten glasses of water will be a good choice.
  • Have a healthy diet rich in Omega 3 fatty acid including lots of green leafy vegetables, carrots, spinach, almonds, walnuts, berries and fish which are extremely good for the eyes.
  • Wear sunglasses when outdoors
  • Do not rub your eyes
  • Lubricate your eyes with eye drops, these are easily available over-the-counter, however, it’s important to get your eyes examined before using any eye drops.

How to protect your eyes if you have undergone Lasik Surgery?

If you have undergone a Lasik surgery recently, it becomes all the more important to take extra care of your eyes and protect them. Take following precautions:

  • Wear sunglasses if you have to step out in the sun
  • Do not rub your eyes
  • Take necessary precautions as advised by the doctor
  • Take assistance from your specialist if conditions such as irritation, redness or itching exist.

It will be unjust and unrealistic to recommend people not to step out during smog, though we can’t control air pollution we can take steps that can help to avoid any damages it causes to the eyes.

Eye7 Eye Hospitals

In case there are any symptoms pertaining to allergy or eye infections, we recommend you to get an eye check up done. The Eye7 Eye hospitals have world-class infrastructure and high-performance machines to diagnose and treat any eye condition caused due to air pollution/ smog. The team of doctors working in the hospitals consists of some of the most renowned ophthalmologists in Delhi/ NCR.

The doctors usually recommend artificial tear drops or ointments for the dry eye condition. They are experts in carrying out Lasik eye surgeries and can help you find out if you need it for optimum eye health.


Lastly, for our overall well-being and optimal vision care and as a precautionary measure to be taken in smoggy weather, we must avoid exposure to the pollution. Keep a note of the air quality index and avoid visiting the areas that are highly polluted. Keep the windows and doors of your homes closed during high pollution and try to stay indoors as much as you can. In case, of eye allergies or infections, visit a specialist without any delay and undergo a thorough eye check-up.

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