Recent studies found that air pollution is linked to a higher risk of progressive and irreversible sight loss from AMD. The research was conducted in most polluted areas by the British Journal of Ophthalmology and found that at least 8% more likely to report having AMD.

“Here we have identified yet another health risk posed by air pollution, strengthening the evidence that improving the air we breathe should be a key public health priority. Our findings on revision reviews suggest that living in an area with polluted air, particularly fine particulate matter or combustion-related particles that come from road traffic, could contribute to eye disease”, said Professor Paul Foster, UCL Institute of Ophthalmology.

“Even relatively low exposure to air pollution appears to impact the risk of AMD, suggesting that air pollution is an important modifiable risk factor affecting risk of eye disease for a very large number of people”, he added. Researchers of the University College of London hypothesized that air pollution increased the risk of developing age-related macular degeneration and described how they drew on data from 115,954 study participants aged 40-69 with no eye problems.

Their previous study also found a link between dirty air and glaucoma and a link to cataracts is suspected. Scientists said that the eyes have a particularly high flow of blood, potentially making them very vulnerable to the damage caused by tiny particles that are breathed in and then flow around the body.

One of the experts from said, “The traditional sign-off with anything to do with eyes and vision is to encourage everybody to have a routine eye examination once a year, particularly those over 40. It is a great way of spotting eye disease.”

Air pollution has been impacted in brain conditions and Alzheimer’s disease too

They also found that air pollution has been implicated in brain conditions such as Alzheimer’s disease, Parkinson’s disease, and stroke. The research team found that air pollution was linked to elevated glaucoma risk.

That is, air pollution is being linked to an increasingly wide range of diseases and the World Health Organization says 90% of the world population live with polluted air. It may be damaging every organ in the human body as inhaled particles travel around the body and cause inflammation.

“There is an enormously high flow of blood to the retina and we think that as a consequence of that the distribution of pollutants is greater to the eye than to the other places. Proportionately, air pollution is going to become a bigger risk factor as other risk factors are brought under control”, said Professor Paul Foster.

People exposed to an additional 1 microgram per cubic metre of tiny particles had an 8% higher risk of AMD. The researchers also considered other factors that might influence the development of AMD, including age, smoking, weight and deprivation. Air pollution has similarly been linked with heart disease, respiratory ailments, and cancer. The tiny particles enter the brainstems of young people causing damage to the brain.

Another similar study found that air pollution has shortened human life expectancy by three years and that it was responsible for more than 6.6 million deaths worldwide in 2020.