Eye Health and Air Pollution
The eye is a fragile organ that is more vulnerable to air pollution than other parts of the body because it has a large, moist region that is exposed to the environment. The eyes’ reaction to airborne contaminants might, however, range from showing no signs at all to having extreme irritability and ongoing pain. The eyes are more susceptible to these impacts even when using contact lenses.
The concentrations of hydrocarbons and nitric oxide in the surrounding air affect how uncomfortable air pollution is.
C4 and C5 olefins are two hydrocarbon compounds that are particularly well-known for producing such discomfort. Compared to straight chains, branched hydrocarbons have more of an impact on the eyes, particularly if the chain has some double bonds that aren’t close to the terminal carbon. When compared to paraffin, olefins significantly increase irritation.
Compared to benzene or cyclohexane, cyclohexene is the phenolic chemical that irritates the skin the most.
The main cause of air pollution is the radiation from vehicle exhaust. When exposed to this level of air pollution for up to four hours, there is a substantial amount of eye irritation. The half-life of this phenomena is 12 hours, however it doesn’t seem to be related to aerosol, ozone, peroxyacetyl nitrite, or aldehyde concentrations. Despite changes in relative humidity (between 30% and 80%) or temperature (25 to 45 oC), the irritants in irradiated car exhaust likewise don’t change.
Although the cause of eye irritation and the particle size in automotive exhaust are still unknown, one researcher has found that discomfort is largely averted below 0.2 microns. It is generally accepted that the type of fuel used and the make and performance of the car determine how much nitric oxide and hydrocarbons are emitted into the atmosphere. These two substances both irritate the eyes in the same way.
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Subthreshold quantities of sulfur dioxide and trioxide interact with sodium chloride or carbon black particles to cause irritation.
Another study found a connection between seasonal variations in ocular irritation and the amount of oxidants in the air. Another important consideration is said to be the existence of aerosol. Oxidants have the ability to dissolve in the tear film, making it acidic and aggravating the eye’s mucous membrane even more.
Among the air contaminants that are frequently observed in large cities are:
a type of gas (CO)
Oxygen monoxide (NO)
sulfate of sulfur (SO2)
Lead, benzene, chlorofluorocarbons, particulate matter, asbestos, benzene, arsenic, and dioxin
signs in the eyes
Following ocular exposure to air pollution, several symptoms that are frequently noticed include:
Redness and burning feelings
Irritation \sWatering \sDischarge
allergy accompanied with ocular edema, redness, discharge, intense itching, and trouble opening the eyes
higher chance of infection
visual issues such as refractive problems and color vision issues
The most common complaint associated with each of these symptoms is dry eye syndrome (DES), which is two times more common in women over 50. In DES, the eye’s surface is irritated and dry, especially if the patient is using contacts. Conjunctivitis becomes more typical when NO2 levels rise.
People who spend a lot of time outside are at a higher risk of developing these consequences from exposure to air pollution.
Without an infection or allergy, the therapy for eye symptoms brought on by exposure to air pollutants is as simple as cooling the eyes by gently rinsing them with clean water, followed by the application of a cool compress.
Sunglasses and lubricating eye solutions are other beneficial measures. Until the eyes have fully recovered, avoid wearing contact lenses and eye makeup.