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Geography and climate have such an enormous impact on eye health. Some of the most scenic places in United States – cities that look pristine, fresh and clean all year round — can leave you with allergies, irritations and all sorts of other eye-related problems that you’d never have suspected.

To clarify the 8 criteria that are considered when choosing the 10 worst places for eye health, they are:

 Sunny days
 Extreme temperature swings
 Computer use
 Commute time

Let’s take Denver (CO) as a case in point for high altitude-related eye problems. The city, in spite of being perceived as one of the best places to live in the Rockies, ranked as the worst place for eye comfort. Denver scored badly on not just the altitude factor, but low humidity, moderate pollution, number of severely cold days, long commute and high computer use as well.

Salt Lake City (UT), another high altitude city like Denver, did pretty badly too, coming in third in the ratings because the amount of oxygen in the air is too low to keep the eyes optimally moist and free of dry-eye related issues.

Nine out of ten in the worst places list include cities in the West, like Los Angeles (CA) and Albuquerque (NM). While the weather in areas lying west of the Mississippi is prized for being warm and dry, the conditions of low humidity and hot, sunny days lead to a variety of eye-related allergies round the year.

Bright sunshine may lift the spirit, but living with a whole lot of it also means being exposed to a lot of eye-harming UV rays. Kansas City (OK) and Las Vegas (CA) scored poorly because excessive and continuous sunshine can be bad for eye health in the long run.

For this same reason, dry, desert climes like that in Phoenix (AZ) can lead to chronically red, dry eyes that make contact lenses hard to tolerate throughout the day.

Wind is another factor that comes into play. Windy cities like Wichita (KS) and Tulsa (OK) made the list for high amounts of eye-irritating blown dust that is carried in the air.

It is no surprise that pollution is a cardinal factor when judging cities from an eye health perspective. Large quantities of ozone and other toxic particulates scratch and sting the eyes, and continual rubbing just exacerbates the situation, affecting quality of life in places like El Paso (TX) and Phoenix (AZ).

A long, daily commute means more exposure to car-related pollution. Chicago (IL) forces one of the longest commute time on its residents, which is why the Windy City took the number 8 spot on the list.

Another factor that went against Chicago (IL) is the high internet use in homes, schools and offices. Along with Denver (CO), Chicago residents suffer from extreme eyestrain conditions because of extensive exposure to digital screens.

Top 10 Cities for Worst Eye Health

  1. Denver (CO)
  2.  Albuquerque (NM)
  3.  Salt Lake City-Ogden (UT)
  4. Wichita (KS)
  5. Las Vegas (NV)
  6. Kansas City (MO)
  7. El Paso (TX)
  8. Chicago (IL)
  9. Phoenix-Mesa (AZ)
  10. Tulsa (OK)