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Environmental Effects On Our Eyes

city covered in smog

Where are you reading this post? Whether it be on your coffee break at one of Victoria’s many fabulous local coffee shops or on a sandy beach somewhere in beautiful Jamaica. Your surrounding elements are affecting your eyes. Learn how in this week’s blog post on the environmental effects on our eyes. We hope you enjoy it!

Our world is changing at a quicker pace than ever before. We have more cars on the road, we have more waste, we produce more than ever. All of these things have an effect on our planet and consequentially us, including our eyes! Gulden ophthalmics explains in their Climate Change & Eye Health article how ozone depletion is affecting our eyes:

“It isn’t just particles in the air that can harm the eye. UV radiation due to ozone depletion is a cause of cataracts. According to the World Health Organization, 5 percent of the 18 million who have cataracts had their cataracts develop as a result of UV radiation. UVA light stimulates the production of oxygen-free radicals that are responsible for clouding the eye’s lens. UV radiation can also play a part in the development of age related macular degeneration.”

We often think about protecting our skin, or respiratory system against environmental factors, like the sun or pollution. But, it’s time we think about protecting our eyes as well! Our eyes are extremely susceptible to the elements and our surroundings. Things like pollutants, toxins, and the weather all affect our eyes. How come? Well, the sclera, cornea, and lens are exposed. We do have some protection in the form of eyelids, eyelashes, and tears but, air pollutants like second-hand smoke, unfortunately, cannot be stopped from entering the eye. Environmental factors can cause issues from dry eye syndrome to serious diseases like age-related macular degeneration.


What Can You Do To Protect Your Eyes?

Surrounding Environmental Factors

Being aware is the first step in helping to protect your eyes. Knowing that our eyes are vulnerable to environmental factors can allow you to take steps to reduce or eliminate them. Environmental factors which we can control like smoking, toxic household cleaning agents, and cosmetics should be avoided altogether. There are wonderful “green” cleaning products available on the market that one can buy as alternatives. Cosmetics generally are laden with all sorts of harsh ingredients, but with some research, you can find great products (some which are local) that work just as well, if not better, and won’t harm your eyes.


Air Quality & Climate-Related Environmental Factors

Climate change may not be within our control. However, there are steps that you can take to still protect your eyes from differing and sometimes harmful climates. Always wear sunglasses when out because harmful UV rays are still present on a cloudy day. Limiting outside time at peak sun times can also help. Cold weather can cause eye issues as well; artificial tears and protective eyewear can aid in keeping your eyes healthy and happy. Victoria is a bike driven city, and often times bikers ask Dr. Sharma what they can do when biking in cold weather as their eyes tend to get watery and irritated. He recommends patients invest in a pair of sunglasses. Prescription sunglasses can also be made.

If air quality is poor, it is best to stay indoors. Not only will you suffer from irritated eyes or worse, if you have a preexisting condition like asthma, going outdoors will be unpleasant, to say the least. You can check your local air quality health index online and plan accordingly. The good news is, generally in Victoria we do not have many days where air quality is so poor that we must refrain from the outdoors, and this is exactly the reason why when it is bad that we protect ourselves!

You may not be able to protect your eyes from every single environmental element, like say pollution, but you can take steps to help reduce eye issues and diseases by being aware of healthy eye habits.


Are you need of an optometrist? Book an appointment with Dr. Sharma by giving our office a call or easily book online through our website.

We are Victoria, BC’s family eye care center, and we look forward to serving you!