How do Environmental Factors Affect Dry Eyes?

How do Environmental Factors Affect Dry Eyes?

How do Environmental Factors Affect Dry Eyes?

How do Environmental Factors Affect Dry Eyes?

How do Environmental Factors Affect Dry Eyes?

September 30, 2020

Dry eye disease is one of the most common eye afflictions in the world, and research has found that the number of people who experience the condition is steadily rising. Dry eye disease occurs when there isn’t enough natural lubrication on the surface of the eyes. There can be several reasons why this happens, but for many patients, the environment around us plays a crucial role.


Here’s what you need to know about how environmental factors affected by dry eyes.

The effect of air quality on dry eyes

Unsurprisingly, air quality can have the biggest environmental impact on dry eye disease. An estimated 40% of the world’s garbage ends up in the air after burning, filling it with millions of invisible toxins that affect the quality of the oxygen around us. These toxins can be extremely irritating, and studies have shown that prolonged exposure to poor air quality can exacerbate the effects of dry eyes, causing symptoms such as itchiness, excessive watering, soreness, eye fatigue, and more. Such symptoms are more apparent in patients who live in areas of high urbanization, where generally there is a higher degree of industrialization and pollution and the number of patients experiencing dry eyes is also higher.


It is possible to reduce the effects of poor air quality on dry eyes. Tips include drinking plenty of water to keep the eyes hydrated and ensure that there is enough fluid in the reservoir serving the eyes. Wearing eye protection in the form of glasses or sunglasses can also limit the number of toxin particles that enter the eyes. Finally, studies have also shown that effective air conditioning is a very effective solution for improving the air quality inside buildings.

The effect of fire on dry eyes

There may be no smoke without fire, but equally, there is rarely fire without smoke. Exposure to smoke can have an effect on everyone’s eyes, but it is particularly irritating for those patients who suffer from dry eyes. When our eyes are exposed to smoke, microscopic particles get stuck inside them, remaining in place long after the visible smoke has cleared.


Some of the effects of smoke on the eyes include:

  • Redness

  • Burning, itching sensations

  • Temporarily blurred vision

  • Excessive watering


Whether you have an open fire in your home, or you are attending a bonfire, you’ll almost certainly notice that your eyes feel irritated, sore, and uncomfortable afterward. Therefore, it’s recommended that patients with dry eyes try and avoid scenarios where their eyes are exposed to smoke.

Lifestyle factors that can affect dry eyes

The lifestyle choices that we make don’t only affect our general health, they can also impact our eye health. For patients with dry eye disease, they may find that their choices could improve or worsen their condition.  Examples include:


Poor diet choices. What we eat is crucial for our health and wellbeing, including the health of our eyes. Diets that are low in essential vitamins and nutrients, such as Vitamin A, can increase our risk of developing dry eyes.


Dry environments. Working in very dry or dusty environments has been shown to worsen the effects of dry eyes.


Prolonged digital device use. Spending long periods of time using digital devices can cause significant strain on the eyes. We also automatically blink less when we are concentrating on visual tasks. Regular breaks can counteract this effect.


Smoking. As we know, any sort of smoke can irritate the eyes and exacerbate the symptoms of dry eyes, including tobacco smoke.


If you are concerned about dry eyes and you would like to learn more from our Dry Eye Specialists, including what you can do to improve your symptoms, please contact East Main Vision Clinic at 253-780-0700 today.

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