An increase in air pollution increases the risk of irreversible sight loss, says a new study published in the British Journal of Opthalmology.
Researchers found that even low exposure to air pollution impacts the risk of Age-related Macular Degeneration (AMD).
AMD is one of the leading causes of irreversible sight loss in people aged over 50 in high-income countries. The most common risk behind AMD is genetics, smoking and old age. However, the study shows exposure to air pollution as an additional cause.
The study conducted in the United Kingdom included about 115,954 people aged 40-69 years old with no eye problems at the beginning of the study and observed them based on their biological measurements and medical diagnosis. The eye measurements of participants were recorded. The participants also filled a questionnaire regarding their health, lifestyle, systemic and ocular diseases information, etc.
According to the WHO data, 9 out of 10 people breathe air which exceeds the guideline limit of pollutants prescribed by the WHO. An increase in exposure to tiny pollutant particles raised the risk of AMD by 8 per cent.
PM 2.5, nitrogen dioxide and oxide nitrogen are the major pollutants linked to macular degeneration. These pollutants enter the body through the lungs and get absorbed into the blood. Since there is a high blood flow to the retina, the pollutants are distributed more in the eye than in other places.
The study, however, is based only on the levels of outdoor pollution. The level of indoor pollution, which also has negative consequences on human health, was not considered.