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Up in Smoke

Researchers have found a link between long-term air pollution and intraocular pressure – but only in those susceptible to oxidative stress. In the innovative study, the team collected data from 419 older men, measured each participant’s eye pressure – and collected a host of other health factors – and analyzed the data against a black carbon modeling program. Black carbon – a common air pollutant – is smaller than 2.5 microns in diameter and capable of penetrating deep into the lungs, and the bloodstream. They found that men with certain genetic variations – namely, those vulnerable to oxidative stress – experienced increased eye pressure.

“Oftentimes, when we think about glaucoma we think about risk factors such as age and genetic predisposition – and we don’t think about the environment,” said Jamaji Nwanaji-Enwerem, PhD candidate at Harvard Medical School and lead author of the study. “But one thing we’re starting to appreciate more is how the environment impacts health outcomes (1).” 

The findings highlight the potential impact of environmental factors on IOP-related disease, and so Nwanaji-Enwerem and his team hope the study will be useful in future policy or public health initiatives.

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  1. Reuters. Available at Accessed: November 17, 2018.
About the Author
Phoebe Harkin

Associate Editor of The Ophthalmologist

I’ve always loved telling stories. So much so, I decided to make a job of it. I finished a Masters in Magazine Journalism and spent three years working as a creative copywriter before itchy feet sent me (back)packing. It took seven months and 13 countries, but I’m now happily settled on The Ophthalmologist, where I’m busy getting stuck into all things eyeballs.

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