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Five Ways to Protect Your Eye Health in Wildfire Season

Eye Health in Wildfire Season

It’s wildfire season here on the West Coast, and many areas are experiencing a decline in air quality. This phenomenon may be reminiscent of allergies for many people, bringing eye symptoms of itching, redness, burning, and excessive watering. Because wildfire season can be unpredictable, it’s essential to have a plan of action to safeguard your overall health as well as your eye health. Here are some important pointers:

Use lubricating eye drops for refreshment:

One of the primary challenges during wildfire outbreaks is the irritation caused by dust and particles suspended in the air. To counteract this, consider using lubricating eye drops or artificial tears. These items are affordable options available at most drugstores. Thankfully, these solutions can soothe the eye and wash away irritants, providing you relief from itching. It’s also advisable to avoid rubbing your eyes, even if they’re feeling irritated. Rubbing your eyes can introduce new contaminants like ash or dust, and some can even scratch the surface of the eye.

Maintain contact lens hygiene:

For those who wear contact lenses, proper hygiene becomes even more important during wildfire conditions. Always wash and dry your hands thoroughly before handling or inserting/removing your lenses. Occasionally, smoke and ash can make your eyes feel more dry than usual and make wearing contacts feel uncomfortable. Additionally, glasses provide a barrier between your eyes and the surrounding environment, reducing the risk of ash, smoke, and irritants coming into direct contact with your eyes.

Seal your indoor environment:

Keep your indoor environment as smoke-free as possible by closing windows and doors and keeping them as sealed off as possible. Some people find that tucking towels under any drafty doors can help with the smoke smell. It’s also recommended to run an air purifier (with a HEPA filter) in larger rooms; just be sure that the purifier is rated correctly for the room size. Change your home air filters often and try to minimize the amount of time that you are outdoors.

Minimize additional indoor air pollutants:

To maintain optimal indoor air quality, avoid using sources of indoor pollution, such as a fireplace or candles. These can significantly exacerbate irritation and discomfort caused by wildfire smoke. While cooking, use exhaust fans or range hoods to vent out cooking fumes, smoke, and airborne particles. Cooking can release pollutants into the air, so proper ventilation is crucial.
Choose cleaning products that are labeled as non-toxic, environmentally friendly, and free from harsh chemicals. Harsh cleaning chemicals can release volatile organic compounds (VOCs) into the air. Dust and vacuum your home regularly using a vacuum cleaner equipped with a HEPA (high-efficiency particulate air) filter. HEPA filters trap small particles and allergens, improving indoor air quality.

Plan ahead for wildfire evacuations:

In the unfortunate event of an evacuation, being prepared is of utmost importance for your wellbeing. Pack essential items such as lubricating eye drops or artificial tears to soothe irritation caused by smoke and ash. Remember to bring prescription eyewear, eye protection gear like safety goggles, sunglasses with UV protection, and eye wash or saline solution in case of contact with debris. For contact lens wearers, include spare lenses, lens cases, and contact lens solution. Additionally, have an eyeglass cleaning cloth, a small mirror, and an eye mask or shield for added protection. A basic first aid kit for minor eye injuries, medical records if needed, nearby eye care center information, hand sanitizer, tissues, a flashlight, contact lens care instructions, and emergency contacts should also be part of your comprehensive eye care evacuation kit, ensuring your eyes remain comfortable and safe throughout the evacuation process.

In the face of escalating wildfire frequency and intensity, safeguarding your eye health amid smoky environments is non-negotiable. Champion your eye well-being with unwavering resolve by embracing these proactive strategies; be vigilant, be empowered, and let nothing waver your commitment to preserving your ocular health. For personalized guidance and expert support, take the initiative to connect with our team, and fortify your vision against the challenges of wildfire season.

Sources:
https://healthcare.utah.edu/healthfeed/2021/07/eyes-irritated-summer-smoke-heres-what-do
https://healthcare.utah.edu/healthfeed/2021/07/poor-air-quality-and-impact-your-health
https://www.aoa.org/news/clinical-eye-care/health-and-wellness/wildfires-and-ocular-health?sso=y

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