As a new study suggests, high levels of air pollution may increase your chances of developing vision-stealing disease glaucoma.
Researchers analyzed data from more than 111,000 people across the UK who were subjected to eye tests between 2006 and 2010.
They found that the risk of glaucoma the leading cause of irreversible blindness among those living in areas with the highest levels of fine particulate matter (PM2.5) air pollution was at least 6 percent higher.
The participants were also much more likely to have a thinner retina, one of the modifications in the eye that occur in the progression of glaucoma.
“We have found yet another reason why air pollution should be addressed as a public health priority, and that avoiding sources of air pollution could be worthwhile for eye health alongside other health concerns,” Stated study author Dr. Paul Foster from the University College London (UCL) Institute of Ophthalmology and Moorfields Eye Hospital, London.
The research in the journal Investigative Ophthalmology & Visual Science was published on November 25.
In a news release from UCL, Foster said. “While we cannot confirm yet that the association is causal, we hope to continue our research to determine whether air pollution does indeed cause glaucoma, and to find out if there are any avoidance strategies that could help people reduce their exposure to air pollution to mitigate the health risks,”
More than 60 million people worldwide are affected by glaucoma. A buildup of fluid pressure in the eye is the most common cause, destroying the optic nerve that links the eye to the brain.
“Most risk factors for glaucoma are out of our control, such as older age or genetics. It’s promising that we may have now identified a second risk factor for glaucoma, after eye pressure, that can be modified by lifestyle, treatment or policy changes,” Foster added.
“Air pollution may be contributing to glaucoma due to the constriction of blood vessels, which ties into air pollution’s links to an increased risk of heart problems. Another possibility is that particulates may have a direct toxic effect damaging the nervous system and contributing to inflammation,” First researcher Sharon Chua, of the UCL Institute of Ophthalmology and Moorfields Eye Hospital, said report.
Previous research has shown that glaucoma levels in urban areas are 50% higher than in rural areas, and these new findings indicate that air pollution can be a factor in this difference.
Foster stated. Given that the study was conducted in the United Kingdom, “which has relatively low particulate matter pollution on the global scale, glaucoma may be even more strongly impacted by air pollution elsewhere in the world. And as we did not include indoor air pollution and workplace exposure in our analysis, the real effect may be even greater,”
Air pollution was also associated with increased risk of heart and lung disease and brain conditions like Alzheimer’s disease, Parkinson’s disease and stroke.


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