How can smoke from wildfires affect your eyes?

This year we’ve seen one of the worst Canadian wildfire seasons on record. To date, more than 400 wildfires are burning across Canada and as a result, even cities hundreds of miles away from the fires are feeling the effects. Smoke and haze have descended on many communities, which is undoubtedly one of the causes of itchy eyes, watery eyes, redness, and irritation. If your eyes are experiencing the effects of wildfires, there are a few things you can do to help alleviate any pain and discomfort.

Wildfires are unpredictable, which means you can never be sure in which direction they are moving. Strong winds push smoke across the country, meaning anyone in any region can experience the effects.

itchy eyes

Unlike a campfire, wildfires can be hundreds of acres wide and produce high volumes of smoke, creating haze and putting toxic chemicals into the air. As the air fills with smoke, people will notice a smell like burning wood, which makes it difficult to breathe and see.

That’s why it’s important to have relief on hand to help keep your eyes protected. Take a look at the tips and resources our optometrists have put together to protect your eyes from wildfire smoke.

How can I protect my eyes from wildfire smoke?

Protecting your eyes is the first line of defence against eye irritation. You’ll require different levels of protection depending on the volume of smoke and the types of chemicals it emits in the air.

eye protection

Wear eye protection

The first step to protecting your eyes from damage is wearing safety glasses or safety goggles if you absolutely must go outside. This will help shield your eyes from smoke and particles, protecting you from toxic particles.

Use eye lubrication

The best drops for red eyes are designed specifically to relieve eye irritation, redness, and allergies. Our friendly team can help you find the right eye drops for your individual symptoms, including ones that are suitable for contact lens wearers, as not all of them are. Using eye drops will help restore the moisture in your eyes and wash away smoke particles, reduce any burning and itching, and keep your eyes refreshed.

eye lubrication

Stay indoors

If possible, stay indoors with windows closed. This is one of the best ways to protect your eyes from smoke damage. Use a HEPA filter in your home if you notice there is still a smoky smell to reduce eye irritation.

Avoid wearing contact lenses

Contact lens wearers may experience discomfort too, as smoke and tiny particles can get under your lenses, causing inflammation. In this case, you should remove your lenses and switch to glasses straight away. If you really don’t want to wear glasses, we recommend visiting our optometrists in Belleville, Trenton, Brighton, or Picton to get advice on how to alleviate your symptoms, e.g., with the eye drops we mentioned earlier.

contact lenses

Use cold compresses

Using a cold compress on your eyes for around 10 minutes everyday can also help to provide relief from any burning or inflammation.

When should you see an optometrist?

If your symptoms are persistent and you’re concerned about how wildfire smoke is affecting your eyes, it’s always best to contact our optometrists in Belleville, Brighton, Trenton & Picton so we can assess your eyes and find the best customized solution to alleviate your symptoms. Our thoughts are with you all – stay safe wherever you are!