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Retina

Air Pollution Increases Risk for Age-Related Macular Degeneration

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Extended and repeat exposure to air pollution has been linked to increased risk for cardiovascular and respiratory diseases. A new study in the Journal of Investigational Medicine found the risks may also include irreversible vision loss. The aim of the study was to examine whether ambient nitrogen dioxide (NO2) and carbon monoxide (CO) increase the risk for age-related macular degeneration (AMD).

The longitudinal population-based study looked at data from the Taiwan National Health Insurance Program from 2000-2010. All participants were age 50 or older. Of 39,819 participants, 1,442 developed AMD during the 11-year follow-up.

Results showed that the highest quartile of each air pollutant was associated with an increased risk for AMD. Adjusted HR was 1.91 (95% CI 1.64-2.23, p < 0.001) for the highest NO2 quartile and 1.84 (95% CI 1.5-2.15, p < 0.001) for the highest CO quartile. Repeat exposure to the highest quartile of NO2 or CO significantly increased AMD risk.

Because NO2 and CO are carried to the eyes via blood, it is important to keep the pollutants out of the bloodstream. This can be prevented by not inhaling them, and specifically by covering the face if exposed.

Reference:

Chang KH, Hsu PY, Lin CJ, Lin CL, Juo SH, Liang CL. Traffic-related air pollutants increase the risk for age-related macular degeneration [published online ahead of print August 2019]. J Investig Med. doi: 10.1136/jim-2019-001007.

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