Wildfire season has set in early this year, leaving much of the west coast, and California in particular, dealing with the devastating tolls of fires. As fires burn, the quality of the air diminishes, which may leave many people dealing with uncomfortable side effects, such as red, dry, itchy, or burning eyes.
To make symptoms more manageable, and minimize the risk of injury or damage, the ophthalmologists at Monterey Eye Associates offer some simple tips for protecting the eyes from smoke. By adopting these practices, residents from Monterey, CA, Salinas, CA, King City, CA, and surrounding areas can make it through wildfire season a little more comfortably.
Stay Indoors As Much As Possible
When the air quality is bad, one of the best things a person can do to protect the eyes is stay indoors. To prevent smoke from getting indoors, we recommend keeping all doors and windows closed. If people need to be outside for any period of time, they should wear sunglasses or other protective lenses to reduce the amount of smoke and dust that reaches the eyes.
Use Lubricating Eye Drops
Lubricating eye drops, or artificial tears, are extremely helpful when the air is smoky. These drops refresh the eyes to reduce dryness, redness, and itchiness. If people choose eye drops that are non-medicated, they can be used as frequently as necessary to keep the eyes moist and comfortable. Eye drops are also helpful because they can help wash away any dust or particles that get into the eyes as a result of bad air quality.
Avoid Rubbing the Eyes
Smoke in the air makes the eyes feel dry and scratchy, which naturally makes people want to rub their eyes. Rubbing the eyes may provide some short-term relief, but it is not recommended. Rubbing the eyes can result in eye injuries. Not only may the hands transfer dust and smoke particles to the eyes, but rubbing could also cause any particles that are already in the eye to create a scratch or tear. Instead of rubbing the eyes when discomfort is severe, we recommend applying lubricating eye drops.
Wash the Hands Regularly
When there is smoke in the air, there is likely to be particles on the hands. Even though they can’t be seen, particles can get into the eyes and cause injuries, especially if someone can’t resist the urge to rub or scratch their eyes with their hands. People can reduce this risk by washing their hands regularly so they are free of irritants. It is especially important to wash and dry the hands after spending time outdoors, or before handling contact lenses.
Reduce Indoor Air Pollution
Smoke-filled air can affect the quality of indoor air as well. In addition to keeping doors and windows closed, there are some steps that people can take to reduce indoor air pollution. Running an air conditioner can be helpful, as long as the fresh air intake is closed, and a good filter is in place. We also suggest that people refrain from lighting candles, using a fireplace, or a gas burner while air quality is bad. Vacuuming should also be avoided since this can stir up any particles that have been trapped in the carpet.
Schedule an Appointment
If eye irritation is persistent, or you think that you may have suffered an eye injury, it is important to seek treatment as soon as possible. You can call (831) 424-1150 to schedule an appointment with the ophthalmologists at Monterey County Eye Associates.