Poor Indoor Air Quality Linked To Dry Eye Syndrome

Recent research connects the relationship between air pollution levels and dry eye syndrome

Using air cleaning systems to purify indoor air can help combat the outdoor air pollutants that cause dry eye syndrome.

Residents who live in polluted cities were more likely to experience dry eye syndrome, according to Science Daily.

The medical condition is considered a deficiency in the ability to produce natural tears and affects up to 4 million people age of 50 and older in the United States. Dry eye syndrome can lead to changes in quality of life and can prevent people from enjoying every day activities like reading. This syndrome can also cause eyes to produce an excess amount of tears as a response. 

Environmental factors such as atmospheric conditions have long been pinpointed as a cause for the condition. The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency said on its site indoor pollutants can also result in a variety of adverse health effects, such as sore eyes, headaches and fatigue, which could be reduced with air cleaners. Sources of these pollutants include combustion pollutants, including carbon monoxide and nitrogen dioxide, and volatile organic compounds (VOCs), from chemicals commonly detected in varnishes and waxes as well as cleaning materials.

Researchers in the study connected prevalence of dry eye syndrome to the amount of pollution city residents face, according to daily Rx News. For the study, data on 3.41 million patients who visited 394 eye clinics for veterans in locations around the U.S. was collected from July 2006 and July 2011. Out of these millions of patients, about 606,000 were recorded as having low tear volume, which could indicate dry eye syndrome. The research results were announced at the Annual Meeting of the American Academy of Ophthalmology in New Orleans.

Connection between pollution and eye health
The locations most likely to have patients with dry eye syndrome included most metropolitan areas in the study. These locations were New York City, Chicago, Los Angeles and Miami, which were all found to have 17 to 21 percent of patients with dry eye syndrome as well as large amounts of air pollution. However, a solution to prevent this medical condition is as simple as using air filtration systems.

“Undoubtedly, many people living in arid and polluted cities would readily attest to the irritating effect air pollution has on dry eye,” said Anat Galor, M.D., Assistant Professor of Clinical Ophthalmology Bascom Palmer Eye Institute. “Our research suggests that simple actions, such as maintaining the appropriate humidity indoors and using a high-quality air filter, should be considered as part of the overall management of patients suffering from dry eye syndrome.”

The research indicates it would be helpful for both primary care doctors and eye care professionals, such as optometrists and ophthalmologists to understand the relationship between environmental factors and dry eye. In diagnosing the condition and suggesting the best treatment options, health care providers should inquire about the patients’ environmental history. Knowing the impact of pollutants on optical health, eye care facilities might consider utilizing air filtration systems to protect their patients from poor indoor air quality.

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