Its obvious air pollution has numerous health impacts but things really get worse when it comes to eyes and vision. Apart from affecting the pulmonary system, there’s hard evidence of pollution hurting the eyes.

Human eyes are quite vulnerable and sensitive which is experienced by almost everyone who has had irritation and discomfort from air full of dust, debris, and pollution. The only difference is that pollution is sneakier than the usual sand and dust having either equal or worse effect on the eyes.

A 2018 research also confirmed on a strong connection between urban pollution and various ophthalmological emergencies! It has been revealed that particles/substances in the air are the primary cause of tears and irritation on inside the eye surface whereas reports from Beijing, China and India also concluded that smog and relevant form of air pollution also impact overall eye and vision health.

Pollution & Dry Eyes – The Connection

Dry eyes is one of the most prominent vision related problem directly linked to air pollution. This particular issue is most common in places where the combination of smoke and fog or SMOG is found. Whereas fog itself is harmless, it’s the smoke that can be incredibly devastating for the eyes. Lack of humidity combined with smoke, carbon, dust, dirt and other debris in the air are the primary cause of dry eyes.

About Dry Eye Syndrome

When tear production in the eye is low or, evaporation of tears from the eye is high; both the conditions are a natural cause of dry eye syndrome whereas the condition worsens when combined with smog and likewise situations.

Much like the rest of our body, eyes need proper hydration which allows ducts to produce tears and moisten the eyeball for normal function. For those under the impression that a quick splash of water is the only cure to dry eye, know that tears have three layers in actual.

That said, tears are a combination of mucus, oil, and water where water is the moisturizing element, oil prevents the water from quick evaporation and mucus ensures moisture coats the entire eye. Without all the three layers working together, eyes would constantly experience dryness and itchiness.


If you live in an urban area or generally experience dry eye syndrome, it comes with the following symptoms most probably;

  • Dryness in the eye with burning or stinging sensation
  • Visible redness and soreness
  • Mucus development within and around the eye
  • Intense sensitivity to smoke, wind and natural elements where eyes become far more watery than normal
  • Sticky eyelids, blurred vision, and photophobia (sensitivity to light)

A general rule of thumb; it two or more symptoms are experienced altogether, waste no time and make an appointment with the eye doctor immediately. Ignorance or not having timely treatment can lead to severe complications that include temporary or permanent vision loss, extreme photophobia and pain in the eyes.

We’re in a world where complete avoidance to air pollution is literally impossible but we can surely take precautions to prevent dry eye syndrome and other eye/vision related anomalies.