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Outdoor Activities could Increase Risk of Exfoliation Syndrome in Eyes

Update Date: Sep 04, 2014 04:16 PM EDT
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Spending a lot of time participating in outdoor activities could be detrimental to eye health, a new study reported. According tot the research team headed by Louis R. Pasquale, M.D., of Harvard Medical School and the Massachusetts Eye and Ear Infirmary in Boston, outdoor activities can increase people's risk of getting exfoliation syndrome (XFS) in the eyes.

XFS in the eyes is a condition that has been linked to cataracts and glaucoma. Previous research has found evidence that the development of XFS is linked to climate factors. In one study, researchers found that aboriginal Australians who spend a lot of time outdoors tend to have a higher incidence rate for this condition.

In this study, the team set out to examine the link between XFS and ultraviolet radiation (UVR). They analyzed data on 118 cases taken from clinics in the United States and compared them to 108 people who acted as the control group. The researchers also looked at data from Israel that included 67 cases and 72 control participants. The information included the participants' residence based on latitude measurements and the average amount of time they spent outdoors per week.

The researchers found that XFS was linked to the participants' residential latitude. They reported, according to the press release, that for "each degree of weighted lifetime average residential latitude away from the equator," there was an increased chance of XFS by 11 percent. For each hour spent outdoors during the summer per week, there was a four percent increased likelihood of XFS that was averaged over a lifetime. For every one percent of the time where people wore sunglasses while outdoors, the odds of XFS decreased by two percent in the U.S. only.

"This work provides evidence for a role of reflected UV rays in contributing to XFS. It by no means excludes other genetic and environmental mechanisms in XFS pathogenesis. If confirmed in other studies, there could be reason to consider more widespread use of UV-blocking eyewear in the prevention of XFS," the authors concluded according to the press release.

The study was published in JAMA Ophthalmology.

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