Eye concerns from exposure to smoke

Published by Auckland Eye on Wednesday, 30 Oct 2019

With the recent major fire in the Auckland city centre, Auckland Eye whishes to remind everyone of fire safety and eye conditions that may be caused or aggravated by the lingering smoke hazard.

Immediate effect from a fire event can cause thermal injury. This can cause damage to the surface of the eye resulting in extremely painful, red and watery eyes. If not attended to by a medical professional, the tissue damage can continue to progress leading to, worst case scenario, severe, irreversible visual impairment. First aid should be immediate irrigation of involved eyes with clean water (or saline solution from any first aid kit) and seek urgent ophthalmic care.

Secondarily, the thick and haunting smoke can have adverse effect on the eyes of people in the neighbouring suburbs as well as people who are tens of miles away from the centre of the fire. This is because the smoke contains micro-particles that is too small to be seen but can remain floating in the air. Any level of smoke is therefore considered toxic. The symptoms include varying degrees of irritation, burning and stinging, and watering of eyes. The affected eyes can also be red and painful with blurring of vision.

Most of the symptoms can be managed with over the counter artificial tear drops.  A useful tip is to put these products in the refrigerator, as the cold drops can be more soothing. For the same reason, cold compresses can temporarily ease the symptoms. If your symptoms persist for longer than a few days, you should consult a specialist eye doctor (ophthalmologist).

Auckland Eye is Auckland's premiere ophthalmology practice with specialist ophthalmologists who provide services across Auckland. Patients can be seen without a referral and acute or emergency situations can be managed every day.

Categories: Eye Health Tips

Auckland Eye - New Zealand Centre of Excellence for Eye Care