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Pollution: what impact for the eyes?

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Air pollution is thought to be the cause of several million deaths per year. As we know, it is now a key issue to try to reduce greenhouse gases and their impacts on the planet, biodiversity and the human species. Because our eyes , in direct contact with the air, are not spared. Some recent studies now make the link between pollution and eye diseases, such as glaucoma or AMD .

Eyes and pollution: allergies on the rise

Eye allergies , which can range from irritation to loss of vision, are one of the most common pathologies in clinical practice. Among these allergies, we find, most often, seasonal or perennial allergic rhinoconjunctivitis .

These allergies have experienced a sharp increase in the last fifty years, reaching up to 40% of the population . This increase is explained by several factors and in particular by the evolution of our societies and our way of life. Among these criteria, we find strong urbanization , increased migration , but also climate change and industrialization.

pollution-power plant

A study carried out by the Swiss medical journal shows that inter-regional variations in the prevalence of seasonal allergies are influenced by differences in climate. Thus, climate change tends to increase the duration of exposure to pollen . It is directly linked to industrialization, the democratization of transport and the opening of markets,

The study also explains that it promotes the proliferation of molds and mites. Climate change therefore indirectly impacts our eyes because it lengthens the lifespan of allergenic elements.

Warming also causes an increase in air conditioning installations, leading to more risk of dry eyes.

Air pollution: sound the alarm bells

In Taiwan, in 2019, the China Medical University Hospital published genuinely worrying results linking air pollution and visual health .

For the first time, a direct link is established between air pollution and serious eye diseases , such as glaucoma or age-related macular degeneration (AMD).

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The substances incriminated are nitrogen dioxide (NO₂) and carbon monoxide (CO), most of which come from road traffic.
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Using groups of people living in places where the concentration of nitrogen dioxide and carbon monoxide ranged from moderate to high, they were able to establish a correlation with the risks of degradation of their home. visual health .

Thus, the group overexposed to these two substances has an 84% more chance of developing AMD.

L ' Institute of Ophthalmology and Moorfields Eye Hospital presented conclusions linking pollution and glaucoma.

Indeed, exposure to fine particles causes a constriction of blood vessels. It therefore considerably increases the risk of cardiovascular problems and glaucoma. Any inflammation of the eye can also be closely related to air pollution.


The fight against global warming is now known to be a major issue. In addition to the risks for biodiversity, public health problems are every day more important. From now on, and it will have taken time to be convinced of it, eye pollution is a major problem for our health.

Sources: Swiss medical review, observatoire-groupeoptic2000.fr