Wildfire Smoke & Your Eyes

September 14, 2020

Wildfires have an impact on various body systems, especially the lungs and the eyes. There has been a lot of news about how to care for your lungs, but we wanted to share some easy to follow tips to care for your vision during the unprecedented wildfire smoke
crisis.

  • Stay indoors when possible When you have to travel in your vehicle, turn the “recycling
    air” on to minimize the amount of toxic smoke entering the vehicle.
  • Use lubricating eye drops when necessary. Red out and Visine are not recommended as
    they can further dry out your eyes.
  • Contacts wearers: If you can wear glasses instead of contacts, do so as this will lessen
    eye irritation.
  • As always, practice good hygiene and avoid touching your eyes.
  • Relief if you are experiencing itchy or dry eyes from the smoke: A cool or warm
    compress can work wonders. A cool compress held over closed eyelids will calm
    inflammation and help with itching while a warm compress held over closed eyelids will
    help with dry eye by encouraging the oil glands to flow better. For dry eye, Take a warm
    washcloth and place over closed eyelids for 10 minutes. You may need to reheat cloth
    during this time. Caution: Test the heat of the washcloth on the skin to ensure the
    washcloth is warm and not too hot to avoid burning eyelids

“My number one tip right now is to stay inside. This, above all else, with give you the greatest chance to avoid eye irritation”, says Dr. Alan Johnson of Spokane Eye Clinic. “ If you cannot stay indoors, follow our simple tips to give your eyes a fighting chance against the smoke”. Dr. Johnson is also concerned about the combination of working/learning at home and the wildfire smoke. “Many members of our community are already battle symptoms from digital eye strain, so I worry about that problem in tandem with the irritation from smoke. So in addition to the wildfire tips, make sure you are taking a break from your screens.”