Dry eye is a condition of the surface of your eye that may occur when your eye produces insufficient tears or there is a problem with the tears your eyes make. It may also happen when the tears evaporate too quickly. When you have dry eye, you may experience blurry vision, dryness, and a burning sensation in your eye. You may also experience discomfort and pain.
Many factors contribute to dry eye, including age, certain medical conditions, and genetics. However, the environment can play a role in exacerbating dry eye symptoms.
Your eyes are susceptible to whatever the air around you comprises. Whether it is smoke from a fire, city pollution, or clean mountain air, your eyes are constantly exposed to these elements. Minute, solid particles in dust, smoke, and air pollution can attach themselves to your tear film. This makes it difficult for the tear film to lubricate your eyes, making them feel dry.
Additionally, pollutants that lodge themselves on your cornea can trigger inflammation. Inflammation is your immune system’s reaction to germs, dirt, and dust. When this happens, it impacts the normal function of the cells in your eyes, leading to insufficient tear production.
Airplanes are infamous for poor air quality and dry air. Crews and passengers often complain about dry eyes, dry skin, and stuffy or dry noses after flights. Studies simulating airplane conditions show that humidity levels during a flight encourage faster evaporation of tears.
The factors influencing dry eye indoors are similar to those affecting it outdoors, namely humidity and temperatures. You are more likely to develop dry eye when you spend time in a warm, dry room than in a humid, cool room. Poor air quality from pollutants like aerosol sprays, cigarette smoke, or dust is also associated with dry eye.
To avoid dry eye, you can lower the room temperature or add a humidifier to your office or home. Additionally, you can improve the air quality in the room by opening windows, growing indoor plants, and cleaning air vents.
Artificial and natural substances like mold spores, pollen, gas fumes, and other compounds are examples of outdoor pollutants. One study showed people living in environments with high levels of air pollution have a high chance of developing dry eye.
People living in cities like New York City and Chicago are three to four times more likely to develop the condition. This is in comparison to those living in rural regions with less air pollution.
Dry climate can increase the risk of dry eye and exacerbate symptoms, as they relate to humidity levels. For instance, when humidity levels lower, dry eye symptoms worsen. Environments with low levels of humidity tend to cause dry eye symptoms.
Dry air and low humidity impact your tear film by decreasing tear-film breakup time. They also increase the evaporation of tears, resulting in dry eye.
For more on the effects of the environment on dry eye, visit North Georgia Eye Care at our Winder, Georgia, office. Call (770) 867-1913 to schedule an appointment today.