A recent study links air pollution to sight loss that cannot be treated due to age-related macular degeneration. It is becoming the leading cause of blindness in cities where air pollution is high. There is an 8% more chance of losing sight for people staying in high pollution areas than low pollution areas.
The macular is the central part of the eye that is responsible for the central vision. Air pollution degenerates the macular causing AMD (Age-Related Macular Degeneration) in people. A similar study was also conducted in Taiwan on air pollution due to traffic. These are two different studies, but both have similar results, and this shows that the link between eye health and air pollution is real. The retinal layer thickness reduces when exposed to Nitrogen Oxides (NOx), Nitrogen Dioxide (NO2), PM10, PM2.5 absorbance, and PM2.5.
AMD mostly affects people who are more than 50 years of age in countries with high income. It is also projected that more than 300 million worldwide will have AMD by the year 2040. There are currently 200 million people with AMD disease in the world. More than 5% of people in the UK over the age of 65 years are having AMD.
Researchers are not sure why air pollution is causing AMD, which leads to loss of eyesight. There is a very high blood flow in the eyes, and the tiny particles that are breathed in may be causing damage to the eyes’ blood vessels.
The significant reasons for AMD considered so far were poor lifestyles such as obesity, smoking, and genetics. But now, air pollution has also come up as the third reason for the cause of AMD. In the case of air pollution, improving overall air quality can mitigate the risk of AMD.
According to the WHO (World Health Organization), more than 90% of the populations in the world are living amidst contaminated air. In these scenarios, all must make efforts to reduce air pollution. People should reduce the use of petrol and diesel cars and instead opt for an electric car such as Tesla.
A research paper published in the British Journal of Ophthalmology suggests that people between the age of 40 and 69 with no eye problems were scanned and examined. According to several pieces of research, AMD risk was increased by 8% when people were exposed to an additional 1 microgram per cubic meter of tiny air particles.
The exact way the air particles affect the eyes is not clear, but it is evident that the risk of dry macular degeneration is increased with high inflammation. Air pollutants are known to increase inflammatory responses. These inflammation and oxidative stress are the main reasons for AMD by air pollution. Retina tissues consume a very high level of oxygen in the body of a human.
The other diseases caused by air pollutants are eye diseases like glaucoma, cardiovascular disease, pulmonary disease, etc. Further research and studies in this area are required to find out more about the relationship between air contamination and AMD. The higher the exposure one is having, the higher is the risk of AMD.
What Are the Symptoms of AMD?
Getting to see “wavy lines”, blurry vision, and losing central vision are the symptoms of AMD. You may not have any symptoms like this during the initial days. Thus, experts recommend getting regular eye checkups by an ophthalmologist, especially if you live in a highly polluted area or city. A yearly eye checkup is recommended, especially for those who are over 40 years of age.
How to Decrease the Risk of Macular Degeneration Vision Loss?
You need to improve your lifestyle to lower the chances of getting macular degeneration vision loss by doing regular exercise, increasing the intake of food that is good for the eyes, and avoiding smoking.
Genetics can be the cause of AMD in some individuals. High cholesterol, high blood pressure, and smoking are the main risk factors that have to be addressed by taking appropriate drugs.
If you want to mitigate the risk of getting AMD, please get your eyes regularly checked. If AMD is still in the initial stages, then such eye diseases can be effectively treated.
Apart from these studies, research is also proposed to find out more about indoor air pollution. However, the proposals were deferred due to the corona virus pandemic. According to a recent study, harmful pollution particles are increased by three times from wood burners in the house.
Other Diseases Caused Due to Air Pollution
Air pollution is also known to play a role in stroke, Parkinson’s disease, and Alzheimer’s disease-related brain conditions. The risk of glaucoma has also increased with the increase in air pollution, according to a study in 2019. Several experts also link air pollution as the cause of cataract, cancer, respiratory ailments, and heart diseases.
All these studies indicate how important it is to make public eye health a key priority by improving the air quality. The authorities should also promote the usage of electric vehicles to reduce air pollution.
Even a slight increase in air pollution is known to be harmful to eye health. Without immediate measures to reduce air pollution and improve air quality immediately, people of all age groups are bound to suffer from various health ailments.
Air Pollutants That Cause AMD
PM2.5 is the primary air pollutant that is known to cause AMD, according to reports. These pollutants mainly come from nitrogen oxide, nitrogen dioxide, vehicle emissions, industrial emissions, and power plants. Nitrogen oxide is emitted by kerosene heaters, indoor gas stoves, and motor vehicle exhaust.
Nearly three years’ life expectancy is reduced due to air pollution, as suggested by two different studies conducted in 2020. The death of 6.6 Million people in 2020 all over the world is caused by air pollution. AMD has turned into a horrible condition that causes blindness in people belonging to the old age group and weak eyesight among all age groups. Recently, in the UK, it was found out that a young girl with asthma died due to road traffic gases.
Air pollution accounts for almost 4.2 million deaths every year, and the major causes are chronic respiratory diseases, lung cancer, heart disease, and brain stroke. The vision loss or blindness caused by AMD is permanent, severe, irreversible, and cannot be treated. The damages are done to the retina of the eye due to air pollution.
Also Read- What is Glaucoma – Diagnosis, Symptoms & Treatment