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Environ Sci Pollut Res Int. 2018 Apr;25(11):10636-10643. doi: 10.1007/s11356-018-1266-1. Epub 2018 Feb 1.

Unexpected potential protective associations between outdoor air pollution and cataracts.

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Department of Preventive Medicine, Gachon University College of Medicine, Incheon, Korea.
Department of Ophthalmology, Gachon University Gil Medical Center, Incheon, Korea.
Department of Ophthalmology, Seoul National University College of Medicine, Seoul, Korea.
Department of Ophthalmology, Gachon University Gil Medical Center, Incheon, Korea.


Air pollution is one of the biggest public health issues, and the eye is continuously exposed to multiple outdoor air pollution. However, to date, no large-scale study has assessed the relationship between air pollutants and cataracts. We investigated associations between outdoor air pollution and cataracts in the Korean population. A population-based cross-sectional study was performed using data from the Korea National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey, including 18,622 adults more than 40 years of age. The presence of cataracts and their subtypes were evaluated by ophthalmologists. Air pollution data (levels of particulate matter, ozone, nitrogen dioxide, and sulfur dioxide) for the 2 years prior to the ocular examinations were collected from national monitoring stations. The associations of multiple air pollutants with cataracts were assessed by multivariate logistic regression analyses. Sociodemographic factors and previously known risk factors for cataracts were controlled as covariates (model 1 included sociodemographic factors, sun exposure, and behavioral factors, while model 2 further included clinical factors). Higher ozone concentrations were protectively associated with overall cataract which included all subtypes [single pollutant model: 0.003 ppm increase-model 1 (OR 0.89, p = 0.014), model 2 (OR 0.87, p = 0.011); multi-pollutant model: 0.003 ppm increase-model 1 (OR 0.80, p = 0.002), model 2 (OR 0.87, p = 0.002)]. Especially, higher ozone concentrations showed deeply protective association with nuclear cataract subtype [0.003 ppm increase-single pollutant model: model 2 (OR 0.84, p = 0.006), multi-pollutant model: model 2 (OR 0.73, p < 0.001)]. Higher tropospheric ozone concentrations showed protective associations with overall cataract and nuclear cataract subtype in the Korean population.


Air pollution; Associations; Nuclear cataract; Oxidative stress; Ozone; Potential protective effect

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