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Invest Ophthalmol Vis Sci. 2019 Nov 1;60(14):4915-4923. doi: 10.1167/iovs.19-28346.

The Relationship Between Ambient Atmospheric Fine Particulate Matter (PM2.5) and Glaucoma in a Large Community Cohort.

Author information

National Institute for Health Research (NIHR) Biomedical Research Centre at Moorfields Eye Hospital National Health Service Foundation Trust & UCL Institute of Ophthalmology, London, United Kingdom.
UCL Institute of Ophthalmology, University College London, London, United Kingdom.
School of Optometry & Vision Sciences, Cardiff University, Cardiff, Wales, United Kingdom.
Topcon Healthcare Solutions Research & Development, Oakland, New Jersey, United States.
Bristol Medical School Translational Health Sciences, University of Bristol, Bristol, United Kingdom.



Glaucoma is more common in urban populations than in others. Ninety percent of the world's population are exposed to air pollution above World Health Organization (WHO) recommended limits. Few studies have examined the association between air pollution and glaucoma.


Questionnaire data, ophthalmic measures, and ambient residential area air quality data for 111,370 UK Biobank participants were analyzed. Particulate matter with an aerodynamic diameter < 2.5 μm (PM2.5) was selected as the air quality exposure of interest. Eye measures included self-reported glaucoma, intraocular pressure (IOP), and average thickness of macular ganglion cell-inner plexiform layer (GCIPL) across nine Early Treatment Diabetic Retinopathy Study (ETDRS) retinal subfields as obtained from spectral-domain optical coherence tomography. We examined the associations of PM2.5 concentration with self-reported glaucoma, IOP, and GCIPL.


Participants resident in areas with higher PM2.5 concentration were more likely to report a diagnosis of glaucoma (odds ratio = 1.06, 95% confidence interval [CI] = 1.01-1.12, per interquartile range [IQR] increase P = 0.02). Higher PM2.5 concentration was also associated with thinner GCIPL (β = -0.56 μm, 95% CI = -0.63 to -0.49, per IQR increase, P = 1.2 × 10-53). A dose-response relationship was observed between higher levels of PM2.5 and thinner GCIPL (P < 0.001). There was no clinically relevant relationship between PM2.5 concentration and IOP.


Greater exposure to PM2.5 is associated with both self-reported glaucoma and adverse structural characteristics of the disease. The absence of an association between PM2.5 and IOP suggests the relationship may occur through a non-pressure-dependent mechanism, possibly neurotoxic and/or vascular effects.


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