Bushfire smoke is bad for your eyes, too—here's how you can protect them

phys.org | 1/10/2020 | Staff
Celtics2212Celtics2212 (Posted by) Level 3
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As we continue to contend with smoke haze in various parts of the country, many Australians may find themselves with watery, burning, irritated or red eyes.

Data from countries with consistently poor air quality suggest there could also be a risk of longer term effects to our eyes, particularly with prolonged exposure to bushfire smoke.

P2/N95 - Masks - Particles - Eyes

Although P2/N95 masks can protect us from inhaling harmful particles, unfortunately they can't protect our eyes.

But there are certain things you can do to minimize irritation and the risk of any longer term effects.

Eye - Surface - Environment - Eyes

The eye's surface is continuously exposed to the environment, except when our eyes are shut when we sleep.

Bushfire smoke contains dust, fumes (such as carbon monoxide and nitrogen oxides), and tiny particles called PM10 and PM2.5.

Smoke - Contact - Eyes - Fumes - Particles

When the smoke comes into contact with our eyes, the fumes and small particles dissolve into our tears and coat the eye's surface. In some people, this can trigger inflammation, and therefore irritation.

The presence of a marker called matrix metalloproteinase-9, or MMP-9, indicates the eye is inflamed.

Periods - Air - Quality - Bushfires - United

During periods of poor air quality from bushfires in the United States, MMP-9 was present in the eyes of more people than it ordinarily would be.

We know very little about how pollution from bushfire smoke might affect our eyes over the longer term, or what damage repeated or chronic exposure might do.

People - Areas - Levels - Air - Pollution

But we do know people who live in areas with high levels of air pollution, such as China, are three to four times more likely to develop dry eye.

Dry eye is a condition where...
(Excerpt) Read more at: phys.org
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