How Does Air Pollution Level Erode Eye Health? Watch Out For These Problems

Not just lungs but your eyes also get affected by air pollution. These are common problems that you may suffer from due to pollution and smog exposure

Chanchal Sengar
Written by: Chanchal SengarUpdated at: Nov 11, 2021 12:38 IST
How Does Air Pollution Level Erode Eye Health? Watch Out For These Problems

Air pollution has been shown to have a harmful influence on almost all of our organs, including the lungs, heart, and bones. Our eyes, being one of the most sensitive organs, are continually exposed to the environment, posing a significant risk to our eye health and eyesight in general. As per Dr. Hem Shah, Senior Consultant at Sharp Sight Eye Hospitals, Aside from the traditional culprits like automobile exhaust and the industrial trash, open burning of agricultural waste exacerbates the problem. This has led to several eye problems, including Dry Eye syndrome, watering and burning sensations, reduced vision and can have serious repercussions.

Eye problems caused by pollution and smog

Despite significant progress in battling air pollution in recent years, the World Health Organization (WHO) estimates that more than 91 percent of the world's population lives in areas where air quality levels exceed WHO criteria. According to a study on air pollution published in Pub Med, persons travelling in extremely polluted locations and exposed to high levels of air pollutants are likely to suffer from a much higher frequency of subclinical ocular surface illnesses such as dry eyes and allergies.

Dry eye syndrome

Dry eye syndrome

When you don't produce enough tears to moisturize and nourish your eyes, you have Dry Eye syndrome. With increased air pollution, the incidence of Dry Eye Syndrome has increased, and its symptoms include redness, pain, sensitivity to light, sensitivity to wind and smoke, and the formation of mucus in the eyes. According to a survey published in the Indian Journal of Ophthalmology, North India has a 32% prevalence of dry eye disease (DED), with 81 percent having severe DED based on symptoms. On the other hand, another research from south India found that 1.46 percent of people had DED. The scientists expected that DED will affect a considerable number of urban and rural people by the end of the following decade. VDT usage, smoking, and contact lens use were all linked to an elevated risk of DED.

Burning Eyes

Burning sensations in the eyes are another issue that many individuals experience as a result of air pollutants such as Nitric Oxide, Nitrogen Dioxide, and Sulphur Dioxide. These dangerous substances have been shown to irritate and redden the eyes.

Also Read: Eye Problems That You Can Get If You Overexpose Your Eyes To Sunlight


Another emerging concern in cities is chemical and allergic conjunctivitis, which canbe induced by air pollution and causes swelling, impaired vision, and extreme eye discomfort. It is caused by inflammation of the conjunctiva, which is located on the outer layer of the eyeball.


How to protect eyes from air pollution?

Although air pollution is becoming more prevalent, there are numerous precautions that may be done to protect one's eyes from the damaging effects of air pollution, such as:

  • When pollution levels are at their highest, one should avoid going outside.
  • Blinking frequently: Our eyes require moisture to stay comfortable. Blinking, combined with food, contributes to this.
  • Staying hydrated is the first and most basic thing we can do. Our body must be hydrated for our eyes to produce the appropriate number of tears.
  • Wearing sunglasses when we go outside to protect our eyes. Sunglasses are excellent for providing eye protection against wind-blown dust, debris, or sand.
  • Indoor Humidity: Increasing the indoor humidity in our houses is another simple technique to safeguard your eyes. This will keep our eyes moist and offer a number of additional health advantages, such as keeping our sinuses free!
  • Using eye drops: One can also use eye drops to lubricate the eyes which will help prevent soreness or itching.

How to protect eyes from air pollution

Also Read: Don’t Expose Yourself To Pollution, It Can Cost You Vision Loss


Air pollution is a global issue that has a substantial impact on everyone's health, particularly eye health. As a result, keeping a healthy lifestyle, eating well-balanced diet, and practicing proper hand hygiene are all essential for maintaining and enhancing eye health. In the event of any symptoms, a thorough eye examination should be performed to prevent the likelihood of a serious eye issue developing.

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