Long-term exposure to pollutants from vehicle exhaust is linked to a heightened risk of age-related macular degeneration or AMD, say researchers.
In a study of nearly 40,000 people in Taiwan, researchers found that high levels of exhaust could nearly double the risk of the condition, which damages the macula, the part of the eye needed for sharp, central vision.
It is one of the most common causes of poor vision in older people and is most likely caused by an interplay between genetic and environmental risk factors. The study, published in the Journal of Investigative Medicine, shows that exposure to the highest levels of air pollutants was associated with an almost double risk among those aged 50 and older.
During the monitoring period, a total of 1,442 people developed cases of AMD.
Those with the highest level of exposure to nitrogen dioxide were nearly twice as likely (91%) to develop AMD than those exposed to the lowest level.
Those exposed to the highest level of carbon monoxide were 84% more likely to develop AMD.