Air pollution can lead to irreversible vision loss

The World Health Organization (WHO) estimates that more than 90% of the world’s population lives in places where air pollution exceeds the limits set for pollutants that pose a threat to our health.

The pollutants of greatest concern to scientists are fine particulates such as dust or soot, ground-level ozone, nitrogen dioxide, sulfur dioxide, and other gases from automobiles, heavy industry, and fire fires. wood.

Of these pollutants, fine particles, which are less than 2.5 microns, would be the most dangerous since they can enter our lungs and end up in our blood, causing inflammation.

Air pollution is currently believed to be responsible for 43% of deaths related to chronic obstructive pulmonary disease and responsible for more than a quarter of deaths from lung cancer, heart disease, and stroke.

Air pollution: fine particles cause a high risk of macular degeneration

In their study, the scientists chose to look at the link between air pollution and macular degeneration, an age-related eye disease that can lead to irreversible blindness. To conduct this study, the researchers used data from several thousand people registered with the British biobank. They also calculated the annual levels of air pollution around their homes using other open data.

The study began in 2006 and about 116,000 people were asked to report whether their doctor had diagnosed them with macular degeneration. Of these participants, 52,062 people had their eyes examined and their retina measured to monitor changes in their eye health.

Scientists have also observed a change in the thickness of the retina. Photo Credit: Shutterstock / Ramona Heim

The results of the study revealed that the people most exposed to fine particles in the air had the highest rates of macular degeneration. The scientists also observed a change in retinal thickness in participants exposed to other pollutants such as nitrogen dioxide.

The only solution is to clean the air

Researchers also suggest that air pollution can affect the eye indirectly, either through inflammation or oxidative stress, two defense mechanisms in the body to fight foreign matter and eliminate chemical bodies. However, more research will be needed to confirm the existence of this link.

In any event, Philip Landrigan, a public health physician and epidemiologist at the Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai, who was not involved in the study, said this air pollution could be controlled and diseases prevented if cities and countries switch to Cleaning. sources of energy, encourage active travel, improve transportation networks and rethink industrial waste disposal processes.

Although the scientist readily admits that these changes will not be easy to implement, he assures that “the technical, institutional and political tools necessary to control air pollution are already at hand.”