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How can I relieve irritated eyes caused by smoke?

Plus other random eye-related questions

Answers by Mitchell Gossman, MD, an ophthalmologist at Eye Associates of Central Minnesota, located in St. Cloud

Can I have an MRI after cataract surgery?

Yes. The concern with MRI and objects implanted in the body is that the magnet can move some metals and cause problems, and can disturb the function of some devices such as automatic defibrillators and pacemakers. There have been lens implants placed after cataract surgery that have metal parts, but these are ancient history, and none are around or being manufactured currently. Go ahead and get the MRI.

Macular degeneration can happen to anyone, but if a close family member suffers from it, there is a higher risk of you developing it. Stock photo

Is there anything that can be done about my irritated eyes with all the forest fire smoke in the air?

I can think of four things. First, being indoors where air is filtered can help. Second, the general irritation can be soothed with a cool washcloth over the closed eyes or instilling artificial tears. Third, move somewhere where there are fewer fires! Fourth, wait it out. When the wind shifts and is no longer blowing western US and Canadian air in our direction, the air eventually clears, and fire season doesn’t last all year.

How often can I use artificial tears for my dry eyes?

Artificial tears in theory can be used as often as you like. However, most have preservatives in them which, when used more often than 4-6 times per day, can cause eye irritation and redness. If this occurs, you can try preservative free artificial tears. These come in individual vials that are opened to dispense smaller amounts than from an actual bottle. There are also some regular bottled preservative free tears, you will know those by the packaging stating that it’s artificial tear, as well as by the higher price. You might see an eye doctor if your eyes are requiring more than 4-6 artificial tears per day since there are alternative treatments available.

“My mother has macular degeneration. Does that mean I’m going to get it, and is there anything I can do to prevent it?”

Macular degeneration can happen randomly, so it is not always inherited. However, having a close family member with this does place you at higher risk of developing it. Unfortunately, there is no known way to prevent it from starting. There are vitamins called “AREDS” vitamins, named after a study that showed that it can slow or prevent progression of moderate macular degeneration to more serious and severe macular degeneration. Unfortunately, the same study showed that taking AREDS vitamins does not prevent it from developing in the first place, and does nothing to prevent mild cases from progressing. Can taking AREDS vitamins be harmful? Probably not, but being that there has been no study showing that it’s effective, it is probably a waste of money, and there is even a chance that a future study will demonstrate that it’s actually harmful for the eyes or some other medical issue, however unlikely this may be.

Find out more

Dr. Mitchell Gossman is a comprehensive ophthalmologist, along with Dr. Melanie Thares at Eye Associates of Central Minnesota. The office is located at 628 Roosevelt Road, Suite 101, in St. Cloud. To make an appointment or to learn more, call 320-774-3789 or email

“Ask the Expert” is sponsored content (paid advertising) provided by Eye Associates of Central Minnesota. To learn how your business can promote its products and services like this, contact Sr. Perspective at 320-334-3344.

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