Study results recently published in the Journal of Investigative Medicine point to a link between air pollutants and an increased risk of developing age-related macular degeneration.
This is the first study to show a notable association between macular degeneration and high levels of atmospheric pollution.
The study was conducted in Taiwan and involved tracking levels of nitrogen dioxide and carbon monoxide in the air breathed by 40,000 Taiwanese citizens living in the city who were aged 50 and older. During the course of the study timeline, 1,400 study participants developed age-related macular degeneration. Researchers factored in other considerations such as age, sex, income, and pre-existing conditions and found that participants with the highest level of exposure to atmospheric nitrogen dioxide and carbon monoxide were 91% more likely to develop macular degeneration compared to those participants exposed to the lowest levels. And participants exposed to the highest level of carbon monoxide alone were 84% more likely to develop the disease compared to those exposed to the lowest level.
Cause and effect cannot be established since this was an observational study but based on other studies involving air pollution and health risks, researchers say that it is credible that air pollution can raise the risk of developing macular degeneration.*