Itchy Watery Eyes Could Be Due To Pollution – Delhi’s air quality enters ‘very poor’ category. Exposure to air, pollutants can cause a variety of eye conditions and worsen pre-existing conditions.

Post-Diwali, the air quality in Delhi-NCR has worsened. With overall Air Quality Index (AQI) recorded above 300 on Friday morning, Delhi’s air quality has reached ‘very poor’ category, according to SAFAR. If you’re experiencing itchy and watery eyes, it could be due to pollution and smog. An expert tells you how you can protect your eyes from the harmful air pollutants.

Dr. Priyanka Singh (MBBS, MS, DNB, FAICO), Consultant & Eye Surgeon, Neytra Eye Centre, New Delhi, says, “The toxic air is making it difficult for people to breathe and is also responsible for multiple health issues. Severe air pollution is a matter of concern and is leading to a host of problems like difficulty in breathing, congestion, headache, eye irritation, etc.”

She continues, “Since eyes are always exposed and are highly sensitive, it is imperative to take extra care of them. People coming in contact with pollution and smog are experiencing watery, itchy, dry eyes, redness and blurry vision.”

Impact of Smog and Pollution on eyes

According to Dr. Priyanka, exposure to polluted air, both indoors and outdoors, causes a variety of eye conditions and makes pre-existing conditions worse. Such as:

Severe allergic conjunctivitis: It causes inflammation of conjunctiva. Patients present to OPD with redness of eyes, burning, itching, irritation of eyes, and foreign body sensation in eyes.

Dry Eyes: Pollutant in the air affect the tear fill of eyes and causes inflammation of the ocular surface. The symptoms are dry itchy eyes, burning of eyes, watering of eyes

Aggravate pre-existing eye conditions: Toxic gases like NO2, O3 and SO2 are known to initiate and aggravate glaucoma and cause ocular Hypertension. They also cause rapid increase in incidences of cataracts and age-related macular degeneration.

Long Time Effects: Exposure to air pollutants may cause retinal degeneration and may increase the frequency of eye cancer.

How to shield your eyes from pollution’s harmful impacts

Dr. Priyanka also suggests some tips to protect your eyes from pollution and smog. She advises:

  • Try to spend as much time indoors as you can to limit your exposure to dangerous contaminants.
  • When you’re outside, use protective eyewear to shield your eyes from smog and dust.
  • Do not rub your eyes; frequently wash your hands and your eyes to prevent infection.
  • Stay hydrated, by drinking plenty of water.
  • Take an omega-3-rich diet that includes nuts, flax seeds, salmon, colourful fruits, and vegetables.
  • You can use lubricant eye drops to help alleviate eye irritation.
  • Avoid excessive screen time that makes the situation worse.
  • Avoid wearing contact lenses and wearing eye makeup if you have irritation of eyes.

In case the problem persists visit a nearby ophthalmologist, do not self-treat.

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