London (CNN)Increases in air pollution are linked to an increased risk of irreversible sight loss, according to a new study.

Researchers from University College London (UCL) found that even low exposure to air pollution across England, Scotland and Wales appears to impact the risk of age-related macular degeneration (AMD).

AMD is the leading cause of irreversible blindness among people over 50 in high-income countries. AMD is linked to the loss of central vision — needed for reading, performing fine detailed tasks and recognizing faces — and the biggest risk factors for the disease are genetics, old age and smoking.

Researchers found that people living in the most polluted areas were at least 8% more likely to report having the condition, in a study published Monday in the British Journal of Ophthalmology.

The team studied data from 115,954 people aged between 40-69, who had participated in the UK Biobank, a large study of half a million people focusing on the medical diagnoses and biological measurements of participants.

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