Air pollution can cause permanent blindness. Here’s how to stay safe
You all know how long-term exposure to polluted air can have serious and permanent health impacts. Over the years, various studies have revealed the effect of polluted air on the lungs which can lead to illnesses such as – asthma, bronchitis, emphysema, and possibly cancer. But, a new study has something to add to this. Not just your lungs, air pollution can have serious impacts on your eyes too. Yes, you read it right. Also Read – Air pollution could lead to heart diseases and other ailments in children: Study
AIR POLLUTION CAN CONTRIBUTE TO EYE DISEASES
According to the experts, air pollution is linked to a heightened risk of progressive and irreversible sight loss, known as age-related macular degeneration (AMD). Also Read – Wildfire smoke several times more harmful to human health than car exhaust: Experts
The findings, published in the British Journal of Ophthalmology, indicate that people in the most polluted areas were at least 8 per cent more likely to report having AMD. Also Read – Why newborns are more susceptible to pollution and how to protect them? Speaking to the media, lead author, Paul Foster, Professor said, “Our findings 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”. He further added, “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”.
AIR POLLUTION AND THE RISK OF BLINDNESS
AMD is the leading cause of irreversible blindness among people over 50 in high-income countries, with the numbers of those affected projected to reach 300 million by 2040. Some of the other risk factors of blindness may include:
With your age, the chances of getting infected by foreign viruses become double. Age can also offer you other health complications that can toss your immunity and thus can leave you vulnerable to various diseases and abnormalities.
Smoking can have severe impacts and blindness is one of them. Avoid smoking as much as you can to keep you safe from various health complications.
3. Genetic make-up
Your gene plays a very important role in your overall health.
EXPOSURE TO AIR POLLUTION RAISES YOUR RISK FOR IRREVERSIBLE BLINDNESS
For the study, the team drew on data from 115,954 UK Biobank study participants aged 40-69 with no eye problems at the start of this study in 2006. Participants were asked to report any formal diagnosis of AMD by a doctor. And structural changes in the thickness and/or numbers of light receptors in the retina — indicative of AMD — were assessed in 52,602 of the participants. Measures of ambient air pollution included those for particulate matter (PM2.5), nitrogen dioxide (NO2), and nitrogen oxides (NOx). The research team found that people in areas with higher levels of fine particulate matter pollution were more likely to report having AMD after accounting for potentially influential factors such as underlying health conditions and lifestyle. All pollutants, except coarse particulate matter, were associated with changes in retinal structure.
TIPS TO PROTECT YOUR EYES FROM SMOG AND AIR POLLUTION
As discussed above, air pollution not only affects your lungs but also your eyes and can lead to vision loss. Therefore, it is extremely important to keep your eye-safe. Here’ are a few tips to protect your eyes from toxic smog and air pollutants.
1. Stay Indoor
Staying indoors whenever possible is the best way to keep yourself safe from deadly pollutants and smog. Avoid exposure to harmful pollutants, especially in the morning – when the pollution level is high,
2. Refrain Yourself From Rubbing Your Eyes
Polluted air can have several pollutants and when you expose your eyes, it can cause severe sensation and irritation in your eyes – you feel like rubbing your eyes. However, do not do that! Why? Rubbing your eyes with bare hands can cause infections due to the transfer of germs.
3. Use Cold Compressions
Whenever you feel your eyes are not behaving normally, give your eyes a small break and try cold compressions. Use a muslin clean cloth for the compressions.
4. Never Leave Your House Without A Protective Glass
Eye protective glass or shades can help your eyes to stay protected from air pollutants. It acts as a shield.
5. Keep Your Eyes Clean
Always keep your eyes clean. Make sure to wash your eyes thoroughly with clean, running water every morning. This will help you to have a clear vision throughout the day. Apart from everything discussed above, make sure to follow an eye-health friendly diet and foods rich in omega 3s and antioxidants. You can have carrots, green leafy vegetables, spinach, kale, avocados, almonds, fish, berries, walnuts, etc.