The Dry Eye Zone

Rebecca's Blog


Abstract: Pollution and the ocular surface

Bit of a summary of what pollution means for dry eye symptoms.

Ocul Surf. 2018 Mar 3. pii: S1542-0124(17)30224-0. doi: 10.1016/j.jtos.2018.03.001. [Epub ahead of print]

Effects of environment pollution on the ocular surface.

Jung SJ1, Mehta J2, Tong L3.


The twenty-first century is fraught with dangers like climate change and pollution, which impacts human health and mortality. As levels of pollution increase, respiratory illnesses and cardiovascular ailments become more prevalent. Less understood are the eye-related complaints, which are commonly associated with increasing pollution. Affected people may complain of irritation, redness, foreign body sensation, tearing, and blurring of vision. Sources of pollution are varied, ranging from gases (such as ozone and NO2) and particulate matter produced from traffic, to some other hazards associated with indoor environments. Mechanisms causing ocular surface disease involve toxicity, oxidative stress, and inflammation. Homeostatic mechanisms of the ocular surface may adapt to certain chronic changes in the environment, so affected people may not always be symptomatic. However there are many challenges associated with assessing effects of air pollution on eyes, as pollution is large scale and difficult to control. Persons with chronic allergic or atopic tendencies may have a pre-existing state of heightened mucosal immune response, hence they may have less tolerance for further environmental antigenic stimulation. It is beneficial to identify vulnerable people whose quality of life will be significantly impaired by environmental changes and provide counter measures in the form of protection or treatment. Better technologies in monitoring of pollutants and assessment of the eye will facilitate progress in this field.