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Light Pollution AMD Risk

A new study has linked exposure to artificial outdoor light at night to an increased risk of aged-related macular degeneration (AMD).

The Korean study used comprehensive national insurance data to identify more than 4,000 people diagnosed with wet AMD during 2010–2011. Each was matched with controls. Outdoor nighttime light exposure was estimated from satellite data for 2008–2009.

Study authors said “one of the most widespread yet often overlooked environmental hazards resulting from human activity is light pollution… its negative effects on human health recently have become a pressing concern”.

The researchers concluded that higher levels of residential artificial outdoor light were associated with an increased risk of incident exudative AMD, particularly in urban areas.

There was virtually no relationship between degrees of light exposure and wet AMD rates in rural areas, which had the lowest levels of light pollution.

The risk was apparent primarily in urban areas, where people with the highest levels of light pollution faced nearly a 3.5-fold higher AMD incidence than those with lower levels of light pollution.

The authors suggested light pollution may decrease the viability of retinal pigment epithelial (RPE) cells. Alternatively, disruption in circadian rhythms may bring on changes that damage RPE.

“Further studies incorporating comprehensive information on exposure, individual adaptive behaviours, and potential mediators are recommended to deepen our understanding in this area,” the study authors concluded.

The study was published in JAMA Network Open. 1


  1. Kim, S.H., Kim, Y.K., Shin, Y.I., et al., Nighttime outdoor artificial light and risk of age-related macular degeneration. JAMA Netw Open. 2024;7(1):e2351650. DOI:10.1001/jamanetworkopen.2023.51650. 

[link: https://jamanetwork.com/journals/jamanetworkopen/fullarticle/2813926