Age-related macular degeneration (AMD), which results in a gradual and permanent loss of vision, may be influenced by air pollution, new study finds. Characterized by the degeneration of the macula, a part of the retina, AMD impacts a person’s ability to see with proper focus and results in vision loss over time. Although the severity of this disease varies from person to person, AMD is a leading cause of vision loss in people over age 50 and is not reversible.
In urban areas however, car emissions are one of the major causes of nitrogen dioxide (NO2) and carbon monoxide (CO), two major types of air pollution. Researchers in China determined that these types of emissions may be responsible for the development of AMD. Cross-referencing national health data with air quality data, researchers looked at health records of people over age 50 and determined whether they lived in an area with high pollution.
By matching patients with AMD with those living in polluted areas, the researchers were able to confirm a correlation between pollution and macular degeneration. However, more research is needed before causation can be proven.