Eye Health Threatened by Toxic Chemicals in the Air

We have published numerous articles over the years reporting on scientific studies linking serious health problems to toxic chemicals in air pollution.  Adverse health reactions to air pollution include neurological disorders including Parkinson’s disease and Alzheimer’s disease, heart disease, diabetes, weight gain/obesity, allergies, asthma, COPD and other breathing-related conditions, autism, lowered IQ, cognitive impairment and language delays in children and adolescents, memory problems and cancer, to name a few.  But there is another potentially serious reaction humans can have when exposed to toxins in the air:  threats to eye health and vision. 

Toxic chemicals in the air

Toxins in air pollution can occur in the greater outdoor environment (from vehicle traffic/exhaust, roadwork, industrial sites, construction sites, fracking sites, pesticide/herbicide use, fires, dirt roads and the like), from business indoor environments (such as toxic chemicals leaching from carpeting and other flooring, building materials, plastic packaging for products, industrial activities, chemicals used in recirculating air systems such as those used in theaters, offices, malls and airplanes, industrial cleaning products (including those used in schools), perfume, including commercial air “fresheners”, pesticides, stored chemicals including those found inside hardware stores and art supply stores, open use chemicals such as those found inside hair salons and nail salons, and recently painted interiors, to name a few), and the inside of our homes (from household cleaning products, stored chemicals, pesticide use, personal care product use, commercial spray and electric plug-in air “fresheners”, perfume, recent interior painting or staining, toxic chemicals leaching from carpeting and other flooring, as well as from building materials, vinyl shower curtains and other vinyl products, and furniture, especially sofas, beds and cushioned chairs manufactured from 1975-2013, to name a few). 

Eye Conditions from Toxic Air

The toxins from indoor and outdoor air pollution can trigger eye infections, dry eye disease, eye irritation, burning and itching and vision problems, including blurry vision.  This is nothing to take lightly.  Scientific studies have confirmed that if exposure to toxic air is prolonged it has the potential to cause chronic and even serious eye diseases like glaucoma.

Solutions for Minimizing Eye Damage

Here are some tips for minimizing eye damage from toxic chemicals in the air–including some from regions that experience high levels of recurring outdoor air pollution (like Delhi, India). 

-Limit time spent in the outdoor or indoor location with toxic air

-Drink a lot of water

-Eat foods rich in omega-3 fatty acids and antioxidants

-Switch to vision correcting eyeglasses to avoid or minimize wearing contact lenses

-Avoid rubbing your eyes

-Minimize use of eye-straining tech devices

-Rest your eyes

-Use lubricating eye drops (Note: Be sure to read the ingredients labels and avoid purchasing eye drops with unwanted chemical preservatives.)

-Always wash your hands before touching your eyes!