Why could environmental pollution cause blindness?

Smog produced by vehicle and factory gases not only affects the respiratory tract, but it has been shown that it could cause blindness. Research published in the British Journal of Ophthalmology, revealed how environmental pollution in large cities can cause vision problems. Especially people over 50, who are the most vulnerable to this condition.

According to the report, this progressive and irreversible loss of sight is known as macular degeneration. A condition that is linked to age or AMD and is the leading cause of definitive blindness among older adults in high-income countries.

The investigation also indicates that if these findings are confirmed, a gap could open for develop new treatments.

How does the study was realized?

The report was led by experts from the London Institute of Ophthalmology (UCL), who study genetic predisposition and the environment in the development of diseases. For this investigation, data was taken from 115,954 participants, who were between 40 and 69 years old and did not present blindness problems at the beginning of the analysis in 2006.

All participants were asked to report a formal diagnosis of AMD by a specialist. Meanwhile, they were studying air indices, including particulates, nitrogen dioxide and nitrogen oxide. They also used information on traffic, land use, and topography to calculate annual mean levels of air pollution. This in the areas where the research volunteers lived.

As a result, of the total of participants just over 1% were diagnosed with AMD. After factoring in factors such as underlying health conditions and lifestyle, the analysis associated an additional 8% of the population with risk of fine particle AMD. While the rest were associated with other pollutants, except coarse particles, and caused changes in the retina.

Eye problems derived from environmental pollution

The study carried out by the UKBB has determined that there are still not enough cases to validate its results. However, there are already other disorders derived from negative changes in the environment.

Irritated eyes

The membrane, when affected by pollutants, becomes inflamed, covering the eyelids and turning the Red eyes, presenting burning and sensation of a foreign body.

Dry eye syndrome

High levels of contamination increase the possibility of presenting this syndrome. Because they cannot produce the necessary amount of tears to keep them lubricated which causes irritation and itching.


The polluted air causes inflammation of the tissue that covers the white part of the eye (conjunctiva) and the inside of the eyelids. What causes tearing and redness of the eyeball.

Finally, the research findings add to growing evidence of the detrimental effects of environmental pollution. Even in establishing a relatively low exposure.

What other health damages do you consider to be related to environmental pollution?