Poor air quality could impact the risk of developing age-related eye problems, researchers have said.

Teams from New York have been looking at what might potentially cause some eye problems, in particular a condition called Age-related macular degeneration (AMD) which is age-related and usually impacts the middle part of the vision.

AMD is the third-leading cause of sight loss in people over age 50 worldwide.

Dr Vaidehi Dedania, a retinal surgeon at the New York University’s (NYU) Langone Eye Center and assistant professor in the department of ophthalmology at NYU Grossman School of Medicine, said: “In advanced stages of disease, individuals may experience loss of central vision, resulting in severe and permanent visual impairment.

“AMD can be classified as ‘dry,’ also known as nonexudative, or as ‘wet,’ also known as exudative.”

The trial involved looking at nearly 166,000 people’s eye records who were aged between 40 to 69.  The participants were asked to self-report if they were diagnosed with AMD by their doctor.

Researchers also looked at air pollution levels, nitrogen dioxide (NO2), and nitrogen oxides (NOx), the latter two are emitted from vehicles.

At the end of the study, 1,286 participants had received AMD diagnoses, and 12 per cent of who had not been diagnosed showed signs of having the condition which was picked up using retinal imaging.

Researchers took into account underlying health conditions and lifestyle, they found a definite association exposure to high levels of air pollution and an increased risk of AMD.

The findings have been published in the British Journal of Ophthalmology.

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