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Taipei City Hospital

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Air pollution and eye health

       Attending Doctor of Ophthalmology, Taipei City Hospital Zhongxing Branch Chen Zi-yi mentioned a non-negligible health impact by air pollution. The body surfaces exposed to air pollution such as mucous membrane gets affected much more easily than the skin. And among which, the respiratory system is the frequent focus in discussions, while the impact to eyes is easily ignored. Eye discomfort caused by air pollution is mostly related to the changes of Lacrimal gland that contacts with the air.

       The pollutants or smoke in air pollution influence the stability of Lacrimal Gland related to those dry eye syndromes including itchiness, dryness, burning feel and etc. If any stimulating pollutants triggers Chemesthesis or even causes infectious reaction, those syndromes will become more drastic. In addition, cigarette smoke, Formaldehyde and burning of fossil fuels are the indoor resources of air pollutants causing eye discomfort. In the aspect of common personal factors, eye strain, insufficient hours of sleep, long-time wearing of eye contacts, eyes receiving laser eye surgery, diseases of conjunctiva, age, unstable female hormone level, taking special medication or Autoimmune diseases will increase eye’s sensitivity to air pollution.  

      In respond to higher level of air pollution, regardless of wearing full-face swimming goggles, the eye protection is not as easy as respiratory protection by wearing masks to reduce exposures without causing any original functions; as a result, reduce the time of exposure, properly clean clogged pollutants and rehabilitation of stable Lacrimal gland are helpful to eye protection. After exposing in the environment with serious air pollution, rinse of pollutants clogged in the eyes by using saline solution, then properly rehabilitate Lacrimal gland by supply of artificial eye tear drops; If any infectious reactions occur, people should seek for medical help in hospitals. To those patients who have eye diseases, their eyes have more sensitivity to air pollutions, so their need more aggressive protections and measures.