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Smoke won’t cause long-term damage to eyes, says Bend eye doctor

Mild symptoms like burning or itching should go away on their own

BEND, Ore. (KTVZ) -- A Bend optometrist said Tuesday although the smoke from Oregon's wildfires may irritate people's eyes, it shouldn't cause any permanent damage.

But Dr. Patrick Ayres, an optometrist with Riverbend Eyecare, said people who wear contact lenses should switch to daily disposable lenses or wear glasses until the smoke clears.

Ayres said minor symptoms like itching, burning or stinging will go away on their own, once the smoke relents.

He said using artificial tear drops, using cold compresses and staying hydrated by drinking a lot of water may ease eye irritation caused by the smoke.

"Those that have dry eye irritation don't have quite as much protective tear barrier in the first place, so they'll be more prone to irritation," Ayres said.

Ayres said wearing sunglasses will not prevent smoke particles from getting in people's eyes, although they are recommended to prevent UV damage.

"It's ideal not to be outside in the first place," he said. "But if you have to be outside and you have the ability to wear glasses as an alternative, that should cut back on some irritation."

He said blurred vision is also a common symptom of smoke irritation. If people start seeing unusual discharge in their eyes, he recommends to go see an eye doctor.

Bend / Fire Alert / Health / News
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Rhea Panela

Rhea Panela is a multimedia journalist for NewsChannel 21. Learn more about Rhea here.

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