How Indoor Plants Affect Your Eye Health
Many people enjoy having plants in their home not only for the added greenery and aesthetic but for their health benefits. The mental and physical benefits of plants cannot be understated, including their impact on your eyes. But if you have indoor plants in your home, it’s also important to understand how they may worsen allergies, which can lead to a myriad of symptoms, including irritated eyes. Below, we take a look at the health benefits of indoor plants as well as their impact on allergies and vision.
The Benefits of Indoor Plants on Your Eyes
Poor air quality affects our eyes. According to Medical News, exposure to air pollutants can result in a variety of eye-related symptoms, including watery, itchy, red, or burning eyes. It also increases the likelihood of developing eye infections or other eye-related health problems, like cataracts. However, the most common vision problem related to air pollution is dry eye syndrome (DES), which occurs when the surface of the eye becomes inflamed and dry. This is more common in folks who wear contacts.
According to the United States Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), air inside the home is 2-5 times more polluted than outdoor air. This is because there are more potential sources of pollutants in homes, which can include cleaning supplies, building materials, and combustion sources. The EPA adds that the average American adult spends 90% of their time indoors. The effects of poor air quality can not only lead to eye problems, but may also result in other health effects, such as headaches, fatigue, respiratory problems, and heart disease.
Luckily, however, indoor plants are an easy way to improve indoor air quality. They work to purify the air by acting as a natural filter – there’s no need to invest in an expensive air filter when you have a variety of indoor plants at your disposal! Through photosynthesis, plants absorb carbon dioxide and release oxygen into the air. Even more, during this process, they are also able to filter out unwanted chemicals in the air. This, in turn, decreases the presence of irritants that may otherwise aggravate your eyes or cause other health problems.
Certain plants are better at filtering the air than others. A study conducted by NASA found that the following indoor plants are most effective at freshening air:
- Dragon trees
- English ivy
- Bamboo palm
- Golden pothos or devil’s ivy
- Mother-in-law’s tongue or snake plant
You can also pay a visit to a local nursery or greenhouse to speak to an employee, who will likely be able to point out which available plants are the best for improving air quality in an indoor space.
Other Advantages of Indoor Plants
Improving air quality isn’t the only thing indoor plants are good for! Having plants in your space can have a variety of other benefits, including:
Improves mental health. Indoor plants have been linked to reducing stress. For instance, a study published by the Journal of Physiological Anthropology found that individuals who participated in indoor gardening had lower levels of stress than those who did not. They found plants have the power to reduce physiological and psychological stress, including improving heart rate and blood pressure. A similar study found that indoor plants have a therapeutic impact on people with depression, anxiety, dementia, and other psychological conditions.
Improves comfortability. Many people invest in indoor plants because they’re beautiful to look at – by adding a touch of greenery, they can transform an uninteresting space into something aesthetic. But that’s not the only way plants make a room more comfortable. They can also increase humidity levels, reduce noise, and even moderate room temperature by offering shade.
Improves productivity and work ethic. For people looking for a pick-me-up in their home office, indoor plants are a great option. This is because they’ve been linked to increases in productivity. A study conducted by the University of Exeter found participants were 15% more productive when plants were introduced for the first time into their office space. That means you can get more work done!
How Indoor Plants Can Worsen Allergies
Even though indoor plants have a variety of health benefits, including improving air quality, they may also have drawbacks. This is especially true for people who suffer from allergies, even only seasonal. There are a wide variety of different plant allergens that can cause a reaction either through inhalation or contact. Allergic reactions to indoor plants manifest in many different ways. But one of the most common symptoms is eye irritation. It may result in red, itchy, watery, or puffy eyes. Other symptoms can include but are not limited to sneezing, runny nose, congestion, tiredness, or skin conditions, like eczema, hives, or dermatitis. With that being said, people prone to allergies don’t need to avoid indoor plants altogether. Rather, there are steps you can take when introducing a plan to minimize the allergic reaction. These include:
- Choose your plant wisely. Some plants (especially those with flowers) are more known to cause allergic reactions, including chrysanthemums, weeping figs, and bonsai trees. However, there are also a wide variety of plants that are allergy-friendly, including philodendron, golden pothos, and bamboo palm. Do your research before investing in an indoor plant. This is especially important if you have pets in the home, as some common household plants are toxic if ingested by animals.
- Add one plant at a time. Don’t go overboard when introducing indoor plants to your space. It’s best to introduce one plant at a time so you can easily identify if one causes an allergic reaction or not.
- Wipe down plant leaves. It’s normal for dust to collect on plants after some time, but this can worsen allergies. Combat this by wiping down plant leaves with a damp paper towel or cloth at least once a week.
- Don’t overwater your plant. Overwatering your plant can lead to its demise. But it can also worsen allergies, too. Damp soil is more likely to grow mold, which can cause an allergic reaction. As such, only water the plant when its soil is dry. Also, try opting for plants that need to be watered less frequently.
Indoor plants are a great way to improve your mental and physical health, including when it comes to your eyes. With the proper precautions, it’s possible to mitigate potential allergic reactions so you can enjoy all of the benefits of your indoor plant collection. The only question is which plant to buy first!
To learn more about all things vision, including how LASIK eye surgery may provide a long-term solution to your eyesight problems, be sure to visit our blog.