A new study conducted by researchers at the University of College London found that an increase in air pollution can be linked to a risk of irreversible sight loss. They found that air pollution exposure, even at low levels, impacts age-related macular degeneration, which causes sight to naturally deteriorate over time.
What is AMD?
AMD is one of the leading causes of blindness and is linked to the loss of central vision, necessary for common tasks like facial recognition and reading. AMD is most commonly associated with aging and most experience some form of AMD in their later stages of life. However, these researchers found that people living in areas of pollution had a 8% higher chance of having the condition not as a result of old age, as pollution has now been linked to worsening eyesight.
The paper, which was published in the British Journal of Ophthalmology, studied data from over 115,000 people aged between 40 and 70. ‘ They used eye measurements and data from questionnaires and compared the results to the amount of pollutants in their surrounding areas.
Paul Foster, professor of glaucoma studies and ophthalmic epidemiology at UCL told CNN that “people who live in a more polluted area report macular degeneration more frequently.” He also said that this is as a result of pollutants entering the body through the lungs, which causes particular damage to the eyes because of the blood flow into the eye wall. He claims that “there’s definitely a relationship between the more disadvantaged members of society and higher risk of getting this condition.
However, there seem to be more adverse affects of air pollution besides just AMD – air pollution is also associated with more instances of conjunctivitis and nitrogen dioxide in the air can also cause severe eye irritation.
What this study reveals is a bigger picture of how air pollution – and climate change – is affecting our daily lives in so many ways that aren’t obvious. Beyond the health of our planet, climate change is affecting our lives in more ways than we see.
Image link: https://www.pexels.com/search/air%20pollution/