increases in air pollution are linked to an increased risk of irreversible sight loss, according to a new study.
Researchers from University College London (UCL) found that even low exposure to air pollution across England, Scotland and Wales appears to impact the risk of age-related macular degeneration (AMD).
AMD is the leading cause of irreversible blindness among people over 50 in high-income countries. AMD is linked to the loss of central vision — needed for reading, performing fine detailed tasks and recognizing faces — and the biggest risk factors for the disease are genetics, old age and smoking.
Researchers found that people living in the most polluted areas were at least 8% more likely to report having the condition, in a study published Monday in the British Journal of Ophthalmology.
The team studied data from 115,954 people aged between 40-69, who had participated in the UK Biobank, a large study of half a million people focusing on the medical diagnoses and biological measurements of participants.
Using eye measurements and data from questionnaires, experts studied those who said they did and did not have macular degeneration, and then compared the results to the amount of pollutants estimated to be at their residential addresses.