MedWatch Today: Seeking eye relief from wildfire smoke in the air

Med Watch Today

It’s wildfire season here in California and as a result, our eyes are feeling the effects of all the debris in the air. Patients are coming in droves to EYE-Q Vision Care in Fresno, to seek relief from eye irritation. Many are suffering because of the smoke from the wildfires in the state, particularly in the Central Valley.

Dr. Michael Mendoza is an optometrist and said the damaging particulate matter floating around is even smaller than actual ash.

“Those particles are really tiny, they tend to stick not just to our clothes, not just to our cars, not just to our skin, but especially to our eye balls. That’s because the mucus membrane around the eyes is kinda a sticky substance, so it’ll stick there cause some irritation… this is why even after a lot of these wildfires are extinguished or contained, we’ll see for weeks after that people are still calling about these symptoms,” said Dr. Mendoza.

Symptoms include stinging, burning, and red eyes.

Dr. Mendoza stated, “Patients who never had allergy symptoms before are suddenly becoming symptomatic and a lot of it has to do with these particles that are in the air.”

According to the American Academy of Opthamology, people who already suffer from eye conditions such as dry eye, inflammation of the eyelids, or allergic eye inflammation are especially susceptible to the burning and stinging eye pain that smoke can cause. Dr. Mendoza suggest people limit their exposure outdoors.

“If you’re indoors, make sure that the filter for your home is changed that it’s clean… If you have to go outdoors, it is better to go out in the morning. If you have to run errands, try to do that all in the early morning as the heat rises here in the Valley, a lot of that particulate, it tends to get more condensed up and sticks more to the body,” Dr. Mendoza added.

Over the counter artificial tears can help relieve burning eyes, as well as applying a cold compress to your eye lids. Dr. Mendoza also advises contact lens wearers to remove their lenses and wear glasses when the smoke in the air is heavy. Also, always wash your hands before touching your eyes.

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