Air pollution increases the risk of glaucoma. Living in an area polluted by air pollution increases the risk of developing a neurodegenerative eye disease that can even lead to blindness.
Living in an area polluted by air pollution is associated with an increased likelihood of glaucoma in the eyes, a neurodegenerative disease that can even lead to blindness.
This supports a new British scientific research – the first to make this correlation. Living in neighborhoods with higher particulate air pollution increases the risk of glaucoma by at least 6%.
What is the research shows
The researchers, led by Professor Paul Foster of the Institute of Ophthalmology at the University College London (UCL) and the Moorfields Ophthalmic Hospital, published the relevant data in the medical journal «Investigative Op 11» Investigative Op.
Their eye condition was correlated with concentrations of PM2.5 microparticles (less than two and a half million meters in diameter) in the area where they lived.
Those living in the most congested areas were found to be at least 6% more likely to develop glaucoma as well as to have a thinner retina lens – one of the changes typical of the disease progression.
“We have found another reason that air pollution should be a public health priority, as avoiding it can do good to eye health, in addition to other health problems,” said Dr. Foster. “Although we still cannot be sure that there is a cause-and-effect relationship, we will continue our research to confirm that air pollution actually causes glaucoma,” he added.
What is glaucoma
Glaucoma is the leading cause of irreversible vision loss worldwide, and more than 60 million people suffer from it.
It is usually due to an increase in pressure on the fluid in the eye, resulting in damage to the optic nerve that connects the eye to the brain.
Advanced age and genetic factors play a role in the development of glaucoma, and air pollution after new research may need to be added to them.
What is the role of air pollution?
Researchers believe it is likely that air pollution contributes to glaucoma, causing blood vessels to shrink, which also links pollution to cardiovascular problems. Another possible explanation is that the particles cause inflammation and have a direct toxic effect on the nervous system of the eye.
Previous studies have linked air pollution to cardiovascular and pulmonary diseases, as well as to neurodegenerative brains (Alzheimer’s, Parkinson’s) and to strokes.
An earlier study had found that urban residents are 50% more likely to develop glaucoma than those living in the countryside, which also raises the suspicion that air pollution, which is higher in cities, is involved in glaucoma.
Indeed, as Foster said, “since our study did not include indoor air pollution, nor in workplaces, the real impact could be even greater.”
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