Can air pollution cause vision loss? Expert responses


The consequences of the Diwali celebrations, vehicle and industry emissions as well as weather conditions have adversely affected the air quality in Delhi. The past few weeks have witnessed an alarming rise in air pollution levels in Delhi and other parts of the National Capital Region (NCR). An annual phenomenon, rising pollution levels are the result of varying factors – from stubble burning and vehicle pollution to cracker bursting during Diwali and even climate change. This seasonal deterioration in air quality in the NCR can cause retinal problems and worsen vision loss.Also Read – Latest Air Pollution Update: Air Quality Panel Orders Immediate Close Of Industries In NCR To Avoid Using Cleaner Fuels

Air pollution is associated with an increased risk of progressive and irreversible vision loss, known as age-related macular degeneration (AMD), according to a British Biobank study. With an average AQI of 445 marking severe levels of air pollution, the number of families who sought medical help due to pollution-related illnesses doubled from 22% to 44% in one week over the past month, according to a recent study conducted by Local Circles. Also read – Air pollution causes irreversible damage to the eyes

Effects of air pollution on the eyes

A severe AQI adversely affects eye health and vision with long-term exposure to polluted air causing sore eyes, blurred vision, tearing, burning sensations, dry eye syndrome, and even glaucoma. People exposed to nitrogen dioxide and carbon monoxide, two common air pollutants, are at high risk of developing AMD. Also Read – Delhi Metro Operates 14 Smog Guns at Project Sites to Fight Air Pollution and Install More

  • One of the main reasons people develop chronic retinal conditions like AMD are extremely high levels of air pollution and deteriorating air quality. The tiny cells in the macula of the eye are extremely vulnerable to particles.
  • Long-term exposure of the eyes to polluted air with a high density of particles increases the incidence of AMD in middle-aged and older people. It is therefore extremely necessary to protect your eyes from polluted air to prevent the development or worsening of AMD.

“Disruption of the atmospheric UV protective layer increases the risk of AMD and vision loss. Research shows that higher exposure to fine particles (PM2.5) was linked to a higher risk of irreparable vision loss, while other pollutants, except coarse particles, can cause changes in vision. the retinal structure. Therefore, it is not only important to undertake the right treatment to delay the onset of AMD, but also to take preventive measures, ”says Dr Mahipal Sachdev, medical director and chairman of the Center for Sight Group of Eye Hospitals , New Delhi.

Treat and manage eye diseases

  1. Preventive eye care is the first line of defense because many eye conditions have no signs or symptoms. Early detection is vital to preventing vision loss and recognizing its symptoms and getting regular screening can be key to this.
  2. Awareness of illnesses and symptoms can help seek timely medical help. Once an eye disease is diagnosed, regular follow-up visits to an ophthalmologist are important to stop further degeneration.
  3. Strict adherence to prescribed treatments and recommended lifestyle modifications will help individuals control their eye disease, so that they can experience better results.

Protect your sight

While not much can be done to control pollution levels, it’s important to protect your eyes and maintain good retinal hygiene to prevent eye damage. Here are some ways it can be done holistically:

  1. Wear sunglasses outside.
  2. Wash your hands often and try not to rub your eyes.
  3. Stay hydrated as it helps in the formation of tears.
  4. Use eye drops to lubricate your eyes.
  5. A healthy diet rich in omega 3 fatty acids.
  6. Avoid using contact lenses and, if necessary, opt for disposable lenses.

In the absence of signs that pollution is under control during the winter months, people need to be more aware of the harmful effects of air pollution and of ways to protect their health in general.


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