In the summertime, smoke is everywhere. It comes from grills, fireworks, bonfires, burning leaves, wildfires and people who smoke outdoors. It’s more difficult to get away from smoke in the summer because people tend to be outdoors and closer together. Aside from the health effects of breathing in smoke, it’s also important to pay attention to your eyes.
Exposure to any level of smoke can cause irritation to the eyes, leading to symptoms like burning, redness and tearing. While smoke can be dangerous for anyone, it causes the most problems for people who have dry eye syndrome or ocular allergies. Fortunately, by staying away from smoke and wearing safety glasses, you can protect your eyes from the effects of smoke.
Why is Smoke Dangerous to the Eyes?
Smoke is a collection of tiny unburnt particles, gases and water vapor. It’s the tiny particles that pose a problem for the eyes. If you stand near smoke, these particles can get into your eyes and irritate them without you even noticing. This is why firefighters wear protective eye gear.
The interesting thing about smoke is that the particles remain in the air long after the smoke has cleared, and they are invisible to the naked eye. So, you can go about your day not knowing the particles are there.
What Happens if Smoke Gets in My Eyes?
If smoke gets in your eyes, take it seriously because it’s likely that the particles are stuck in there as well. For example, rubbing your eyes can damage the cornea and spread the smoke particles around. Here are some symptoms to be on the lookout for:
- Excessive watering
- Temporary vision changes
I Got Smoke in My Eyes. How Can I Ease My Symptoms?
To ease your symptoms, there are a few things you can do. First, remove yourself from the environment where the smoke is. If it’s in your neighborhood, close your windows and turn on the AC. Make sure your air filters are kept cleaned and changed regularly. If you live in a smoky area, you may also want to invest in an air purifier or humidifier.
Next, follow these tips:
- Use artificial tear drops
- Use anti-allergy drops
- Apply ice water on a washcloth to closed eyelids – do NOT rinse your eyes with tap water
- Avoid rubbing your eyes
If you continue to be bothered by smoke, contact your eye specialist for a thorough exam. It’s possible that you have something else going on that is making it difficult to tolerate the smoke, such as dry eye syndrome or allergies. To schedule your appointment for a comprehensive eye exam, contact Empire Retina Consultants today.