Air pollution, for the first time associated with the progressive and irreversible loss of vision

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Carlos Laforet Coll
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For the first time, air pollution was also associated with progressive and irreversible vision loss

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It was known to promote respiratory problems and asthma, but for the first timeair pollution it has also been associated with progressive and irreversible loss of vision. This is revealed by a new study conducted in Gan Britain.





According to the research coordinated by prof. Paul Foster of University College of London (Institute of Ophthalmology), air pollution is linked to an increased risk of progressive and irreversible vision loss, a disease known as age-related macular degeneration (AMD or DMLE). In a large long-term study, UCL researchers found that people living in the most polluted areas are at least 8% more likely to be affected by AMD.

The latter is the main cause of irreversible blindness among people over 50 in high-income countries. The number of people affected is projected to reach 300 million by 2040. Known risk factors include older age, smoking and genetic factors, but we now know that the poisons that fill the air also make a terrible contribution.

Air pollution has been implicated in brain conditions such as Alzheimer's disease, Parkinson's disease and stroke. A 2019 study by the same research group found that air pollution was linked to an elevated risk of glaucoma. Particulate matter exposure is one of the strongest predictors of mortality among air pollutants.

Now, to see if air pollution had anything to do with AMD, the researchers drew on data from 115.954 participants in the British biobank study, referring to people aged 40 to 69 with no eye problems. study began in 2006. Participants were asked to report any formal diagnosis of AMD by a physician. Structural changes in the thickness and number of light receptors in the retina - indicative of AMD - were also evaluated in 52.602 participants, for whom complete data were available in 2009 and 2012, using retinal imaging.


The measurements of air pollution included particulate matter (PM2,5), nitrogen dioxide (NO2) and oxides of nitrogen (NOx). The estimates were provided by the Small Area Health Statistics Unit as part of the BioSHaRE-EU Environmental Determinants of Health project. Official information on traffic, land use and topography was used to calculate the annual average levels of air pollution at the participants' home addresses.


The research team found that people in areas with higher levels of fine particulate pollution were more likely to report having AMD. Specifically, they found an 8% difference between people living in the 25th and 75th percentiles of pollution levels. All pollutants were associated with changes in the structure of the retina.

“Here we have identified another health risk posed by air pollution, reinforcing evidence that improving the air we breathe should be a key public health priority. Our results suggest that living in an area with polluted air, particularly fine particles or combustion-related particles that come from road traffic, could contribute to eye diseases, ”said Professor Paul Fosterò.

The study, published in the British Journal of Ophthalmology, further revealed that also relatively low exposure to air pollution appears to have a impact on the risk of AMD. As a result, air pollution is a major risk factor affecting eye disease for a very large number of people around the world.

At the base there could be either oxidative stress or inflammation. One more reason to try to reduce air pollution, which is dangerous for our health at 360 °

Sources of reference: Eurekalert, British Journal of Ophthalmology 


READ also:

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  • Despite the coronavirus, air pollution still remains the major risk factor for global life expectancy
  • Air Pollution Affects Bone Health Even in Young People: The Study
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