Air pollution is linked to an increased risk of progressive and irreversible vision loss, known as age-related macular degeneration (AMD), reveals a study published in the “British Journal of Ophthalmology.”
AMD is the leading cause of irreversible blindness among people over 50 in high-income countries, with the number affected by 2040 expected to reach 300 million.
Known risk factors include: advanced age, smoking and genetic factors. But given that ambient air pollution is associated with higher risks of heart and respiratory diseases, the researchers wanted to know if this condition could also be associated with a higher risk.
Researchers analyzed data from 115,954 study participants UK Biobank aged 40-69 years with no eye problems at the beginning of this study in 2006.
Participants were asked to report any AMD diagnosis made by a physician.
Of the total number of study participants, 1,286 (just over 1%) were diagnosed with AMD.
After taking into account potentially influential factors, including previous pathologies and lifestyle, the analysis showed that higher exposure to fine particulate matter (PM2.5) was associated with a higher risk (8%) of AMD, while all other pollutants were associated with changes in the structure of the retina.
Although it is an observational study and, as such, it cannot establish the cause, the findings reproduce those of other works.
“Our findings suggest that ambient air pollution, especially fine particulate matter or combustion-related particulates, may affect AMD risk,” they write.
And they conclude: «The results add to the evidence of the harmful effects of contamination.n, even in the context of relatively low exposure. ‘