How Air Pollution is Affecting your Eyes


Pollution affected eye

Severe levels of toxic air pollution in Delhi have been declared as an emergency situation by the Indian government. As pollution in Delhi has risen to significantly high levels above the safe limit, it is high time we should take effective measures to take care of our health. PM 2.5 pollutants level have reached 999 in some parts of Delhi earlier years which is more than 16 times the safe limit of 60. This level of pollutants in air adversely impacts respiratory, cardiovascular systems and your eyes.

High level of pollution means presence of pollutants in the air which makes the air harmful for not just your lungs but also for your eyes. The pollutants such as gaseous pollutants, odours, dust, fumes, mist, and smoke present in the air in our outdoor environment affects the quality of air we breathe and hence impacts our health. High levels of pollutants in the air cause difficulty in breathing as well as irritation in the eyes. Our eyes are sensitive to the pollutants and dust which is present in the air.

Open burning of agricultural waste, by-products of mining, power generation, fumes of transport vehicles are the major sources of emitting the harmful pollutants in the air. Pollutants filled air breathed for longer period of times increases the risk of respiratory problems and cardiovascular diseases.

Effect of air pollution on eyes manifests in a varied range of symptoms from simple irritation and burning sensation to severe allergy. The most common symptoms are-

  • Dryness

  • Redness,

  • Burning sensation,

  • Watery Eyes,

  • Ropy Discharge,

  • Itchiness,

  • Gritty sensation,

  • Difficulty in vision due to watering and itching etc.

Face masks are most commonly used to prevent breathing polluted air but effect of air pollution on eyes is often overlooked. These masks do prevent us from inhaling polluted air but our eyes stay exposed to the harmful pollutants present in the air.


We often tend to rub our eyes whenever we feel any pollutant particle enters our eyes which always exacerbate the symptoms. Wash your eyes with water to reduce dryness and itchiness. You can also use lubricating eye drops to hydrate your eyes.

These relaxing eye drops help reduce dryness which causes irritation, itchiness and redness in your eyes.

Dryness in eyes means lack of enough moisture in eyes which is natural nourishment for eyes. Constant moisture and lubrication is required to maintain vision and comfort of eyes. The glands around the eyes secrete the components that form tears to keep the eyes lubricated.


Any imbalance in secretion of these components causes dryness in eyes. When there is not adequate lubrication of eyes, a person starts experiencing above mentioned symptoms.

Whenever you go out in highly polluted areas, make sure you cover your face and eyes properly to prevent pollution from affecting you.

There are few measures that can be taken to prevent air-pollution affect your eyes such as wearing eye-glasses while going outside, washing your eyes properly, using lubricating eye-drops, use of cool compress to reduce any irritation in eyes, disinfect your contact lenses after every use and before reuse etc.


These simple measures not only help prevent your eyes from dryness but also from severe eye infections. If you experience symptoms of highly irritation and itchiness in eyes due to pollution, don’t overlook as they may cause severe eye infections if left untreated. Visit your ophthalmologist for a quick diagnosis and recommended course of treatment to cure the problems affecting your eyes.