Media reports abound about how air pollution impacts a person’s lungs, even leading to serious pulmonary disease. More recently, a comprehensive research study revealed that glaucoma rates increase in urban areas impacted by air pollution. Indeed, research indicates that exposure to air pollution of the type found in major urban enclaves may increase the risk of developing glaucoma by a startling 50 percent.
What is Glaucoma?
Glaucoma is something of an umbrella term for a group of different types of eye-related conditions that damage the optic nerve. The damage is caused by abnormally high pressure in a person’s eye. Glaucoma is one of the leading causes of blindness in the United States and around the world. An estimated 60 million people have glaucoma worldwide.
Glaucoma can affect a person of any age. With that noted, serious eye disease more often impacts a person over the age of 60.
Air Pollution and Glaucoma Research Specifics
The study connecting higher environmental pollution to an increased incidence of glaucoma involved 111,000 people across Great Britain (England, Scotland, and Wales). The participants’ eye tests were monitored for a course of five years from 2006 through 2010.
The data revealed that individuals who lived in areas with higher levels of particulate matter air pollution were notably more likely to develop glaucoma. Particulate matter, also known as atmospheric aerosol particles, consists of microscopic particles of either solid or liquid contaminants suspended in the air. These particles are the elementary components of what commonly is referred to as air pollution.
One important caveat exists in regard to the study conducted in the United Kingdom and the increased risk of glaucoma caused by air pollution in the United States. When contrasted with the United States, the United Kingdom has overall lower levels of particulate matter pollution. Thus, the increased risk of glaucoma resulting from exposure to air pollution very well may be higher in the United States, and perhaps significantly so.
As mentioned earlier, the increased risk of glaucoma joins pulmonary disease as potential outcomes of exposure to air pollution. Air pollution is also believed to increase the risk of brain conditions like Alzheimer’s disease, Parkinson’s disease, and stroke.
The Importance of Routine Eye Care
Vision loss resulting from glaucoma cannot be restored or recovered. Hence, a person must be proactive in embarking on a course of proper eye care, which includes regular visits to an eye doctor. An eye doctor employs a simple test to determine if a person’s eye pressure is within healthy parameters. If glaucoma is detected early, an eye doctor is able to prescribe a course of treatment that can slow vision loss or prevent further vision loss altogether.
If you have concerns about your eye health, or if you’re in need of an eye exam, the experienced, friendly professionals at Matossian Eye Associates are available to assist. You can schedule an appointment at a time convenient for you by calling the eye doctors at Matossian Eye Associates at (800) 708-8800, or click here to request an appointment online.