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Exposure to Air Pollutants May Up Risk for Macular Degeneration

Risk for age-related macular degeneration greater in highest versus lowest quartiles of NO2, CO


WEDNESDAY, Aug. 21, 2019 (HealthDay News) -- Chronic exposure to high levels of nitrogen dioxide (NO2) and carbon monoxide (CO) is associated with an increased risk for age-related macular degeneration (AMD) in a population in Taiwan, according to a study published online Aug. 19 in the Journal of Investigative Medicine.

Kuang-Hsi Chang, from Tungs' Taichung Metroharbor Hospital in Taiwan, and colleagues used data from the Taiwan National Health Insurance Program between 2000 and 2010 to examine whether ambient NO2 and CO are associated with the risk for AMD. Individuals aged 50 years or older were enrolled, and annual total NO2 and CO exposure was calculated from 1998 to 2010 for each individual.

A total of 39,819 AMD-free residents were enrolled; during 11 years of follow-up, 1,442 participants developed AMD. The researchers found that the risk for AMD was increased in association with the highest quartile of each air pollutant compared with the lowest exposure quartile. For the highest NO2 and CO quartiles, the adjusted hazard ratios for AMD were 1.91 and 1.84, respectively.

"Our results indicate the highest quartile of each pollutant could increase the risk of AMD by almost twofold, while the moderate exposure did not contribute to AMD development," the authors write.

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