Today, air conditioning is already a standard in offices and shopping malls. People also look for pleasant cooling on warm days at home or in cars. However, the comfort that air conditioning brings also carries certain risks for the eyes. What to watch out for when driving a vehicle when the air conditioning is on and how to relieve your eyes?
The most common mistake is to direct the flow of cold air from the air conditioner directly at your face. The eyes are thus more stressed and dry out, and there is a risk of unpleasant burning, cutting, or itching sensations. Ophthalmologists, therefore, recommend directing the airflow upwards towards the windscreen. The air will then circulate in the car cabin and gradually reduce the temperature.
Activities in which one looks in one direction for a long time can lead to dry eyes, sometimes to the development of dry eye syndrome. The disease has become a global problem of our civilization in recent years. Such activities include driving a car. People who suffer from poor tear film quality or lack of tears are most susceptible. This can cause discomfort such as a foreign body sensation in the eye, paradoxically higher tearing of the eyes, burning, or cutting.
If symptoms are not addressed in time, they can worsen the condition, and create a higher risk of eye infection and even corneal inflammation. “It is important to hydrate your eyes regularly before you experience the symptoms of dry eyes. Applying artificial tears without preservatives can prevent unpleasant symptoms or relieve the eyes. Therefore, for a longer route, we recommend packing artificial tears in the car and applying one or two drops of these tears to the eye at the rest stops,” recommended Andrea Gregůrková, a Gemini Eye Clinic specialist in Zlín.
It is recommended to service the air conditioning regularly, at least once a year. This is because harmful microorganisms can accumulate in the filters and endanger breathing and one’s eyesight. “Poorly maintained air conditioners can contain mold and bacteria, most often Legionella bacteria, which causes the so-called ‘air conditioning disease’. It is very similar to pneumonia. Its symptoms are general weakness, headaches, and a dry cough accompanying chest pain,” said Andrea Gregůrková.