Systemic inflammation of and oxidative stress to the eye: Impact of traffic air pollution on childhood myopia

Indoor Air Cartoon Journal, January 2020, Volume 3, #93.

Myopia is a common eye problem that is prevalent, especially among children, all over the world. Myopia also refers to short/nearsightedness is a kind of eye problem in which a person suffering from it can see near objects clearly, but have a blurry vision of far objects. Myopia is due to refractive vision error causing light rays to focus in front of the retina instead of on its surface.

Experts attributed the occurrence to the excessive length of eyeball more than the focusing power of the eye cornea and lens. What makes this happen? Evidence in the literature suggests that systemic inflammation of and oxidative stress to different parts of the eye could be responsible for this mismatch.

Air pollutants are reported in the literature as one of the environmental stimuli that can cause systemic inflammation and oxidative stress to different parts of the human body, including the eye. The effect is prevalent among children because of their low immunity. Road traffic is a major source of air pollutants found in outdoor and indoor environment. Examples of road traffic air pollutants are nitrogen oxides (NOx), carbon monoxides, volatile organic compounds, ozone, and particulate matters.

The above understanding led to the question, could the increase in the prevalence of myopia among children be attributed to their exposure to road traffic air pollutants? The hypothesis is that an increase in the exposure of children to road traffic air pollutants will increase their risk of suffering from childhood myopia.

After reviewing the literature, evidence supports an association between road traffic air pollutants and the prevalence of myopia among children. Increased exposure of children to road traffic air pollutants due to the proximity of their schools and homes to the road traffic increased their risk of developing myopia. Children spend most of their time in schools and at home. Thus, most of the exposure would occur in the indoor environment. Outdoor to indoor transport of road traffic air pollutants will increase the indoor concentration of the road traffic pollutants.

Having schools and homes close to road traffic with little or no mitigation strategy would increase the vulnerability of children occupying the buildings. The prevalence of childhood myopia would increase the number of children using spectacles. A child’s academic performance could be compromised if the child is unable to have corrective spectacles. What can be done to minimise children exposure to road traffic air pollutants in the indoor environment? What can be done to reduce the concentrations of road traffic air pollutants?

93. Myopia_93

Do you want to know more about the topic? Read Dadvand et al. (2017), Provost et al. (2017), and Wei et al. (2019) papers.

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