Six Quick Tips to Protect Against Poor Air Quality and Wildfire Smoke

Last Updated: August 9, 2023

Wildfires are a major source of air pollution. Not only can this irritate our lungs and worsen existing medical conditions, it can also lead to uncomfortable symptoms like irritated, sore, and watery eyes.

Here are some tips to help keep your eyes healthy and better protected against the poor air quality and smoke that accompanies wildfires.

1. Check your local air quality health index (AQHI).

The AQHI provides valuable information about air pollution in your area and the associated health risks. It will also give you recommendations on how to best protect your health.

2. Stay indoors whenever possible.

When air quality is poor, the best thing you can do is stay indoors. To make sure that indoor air is as clean as possible:

  • Keep windows and doors shut
  • Use your air conditioner if you have one
  • If you have an HVAC system, set it to recirculate mode
  • Use a high-quality air filter
  • If you don’t get sufficient relief at home, go to a public building with air conditioning and clean air such as your local library or shopping mall
  • Avoid smoking indoors

3. If you’re outside, protect your eyes.

If you must venture outdoors, wear sunglasses or other eye protection to help shield your eyes from particles in the air. Wear an N95 mask to protect your lungs.

4. Resist the urge to rub your eyes.

Air pollution and wildfire smoke will irritate your eyes. Rubbing them will only make things worse. Try to avoid touching your eyes. Practice good eye hygiene by washing your hands before touching your eye area and using a clean washcloth to gently clean your eyelids. Wash your face with clean water. Take a shower.

5. Practice good contact lens hygiene.

Particles in the air can get trapped under your contact lenses, causing discomfort. Follow the instructions provided and maintain good hygiene practices. If your contacts cause you discomfort or pain, stop using them and contact your optometrist.

6. When in doubt, contact your optometrist. 

Regardless, is important to see your optometrist for regular comprehensive eye exams, which are crucial to maintaining eye health.

To find an optometrist near you, visit