Science 3 min read

Long-Term Exposure To Car Pollutants can Cause AMD

A new study revealed that over exposure to car pollutants not only causes lung diseases, but could also affect older people's vision.

Image courtesy of Shutterstuck

Image courtesy of Shutterstuck

Researchers have found a link between long-term exposure to pollutants from vehicle exhaust and an increased risk of age-related macular degeneration (AMD) among older people – aged 50 and above.

AMD is a neurodegenerative condition that affects the middle part of the retina, known as the macula. While dry macular degeneration is characterized by deterioration of the retina’s center, in the wet type, leaky blood vessels grow under the retina.

It’s one of the most common causes of poor vision in older people, and a key symptom is a blurred vision.

So, what causes AMD?

Previous studies suggest that the condition is a result of an interplay between genetic and environmental risk factors.

Other studies have linked long-term exposure to air pollutants with a higher risk of respiratory and cardiac disease. However, few have explored how it could potentially affect the eyes.

So, a team of Taiwanese researchers decided to explore this topic.

Long-Term Exposure To Pollutants From Car Exhaust And AMD

For the study, the researchers analyzed air quality and the national health insurance data from 1998 to 2010. Their goal was simple: to find the link between long term exposure to nitrogen oxide, including carbon monoxide and an increased risk of AMD.

Since the condition is prevalent among the older age group, the study focused on 39,819 people between age 50 and above. Most of the study participants in the study either lived in urbanized or moderately urbanized areas.

During the monitoring period, the researchers noted that about 1,442 people developed AMD. They then accounted for seasonal variations in air pollutant levels, as well as other influencing factors such as sex, age, household income, among others.

The findings suggest that people with the highest level of exposure to nitrogen oxide (more than 9825.5 ppb) were 91 percent likely to develop AMD, compared to those with less than 6563.2 ppb exposure.

Also, people that are exposed to a carbon monoxide level that’s more than 297.1 ppm were 84 percent more likely to develop AMD than those whose exposure is less than195.7 ppm. The researchers noted that people living in the region with the highest level of CO exposure also had the highest rate – 5.8 percent – of newly diagnosed AMD.

In their paper in the Journal of Investigative Medicine, the researchers wrote that this is the first study to “demonstrate a significant association between AMD and high levels of ambient NO2 and CO.”

With that said, the study is observational, and cannot establish a cause. The authors also admitted that the data didn’t include information on other risk factors. These include genetics, inflammation, or lifestyle choices such as smoking.

Read More: Air Pollution Can Accelerate Progression of Emphysema of the Lung

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Sumbo Bello

Sumbo Bello is a creative writer who enjoys creating data-driven content for news sites. In his spare time, he plays basketball and listens to Coldplay.

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