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Br J Ophthalmol 87:809-811 doi:10.1136/bjo.87.7.809
  • Commentary

Effects of air pollution and climatic conditions on the frequency of ophthalmological emergency examinations

  1. T Bourcier1,
  2. C Viboud2,
  3. J-C Cohen3,
  4. F Thomas1,
  5. T Bury1,
  6. L Cadiot1,
  7. O Mestre3,
  8. A Flahault2,
  9. V Borderie1,
  10. L Laroche1
  1. 1Quinze-Vingts National Center of Ophthalmology, Paris, France
  2. 2INSERM Unit 444, Saint-Antoine Hospital, Paris, France
  3. 3Meteo-France, Paris, France
  1. Correspondence to: Tristan Bourcier, MD, PhD, Ophthalmology 5, Quinze-Vingts National Center of Ophthalmology, 28 rue de Charenton 75012 Paris, France; bourcier{at}quinze-vingts.fr
  • Accepted 7 January 2003

Research is needed on the association between weather and air pollutants

Clear recognition of the implications of outdoor air pollution on health is a relatively recent development. Numerous epidemiological studies have demonstrated short term associations between high levels of air pollution and increased acute mortality and morbidity.1–6 Relations between asthma, bronchitis, cardiovascular conditions (that is, coronary disease), headaches, and outdoor pollution rates have so far been described.7–9 In the recent years, the variety and rates of pollutants in the atmosphere have appeared to be on the increase.7 The increase has been caused by the general rise in vehicle traffic. Short term meteorological conditions such as air temperature, humidity, and atmospheric pressure have also been shown to influence the pollution rates.

The aim of the study was (1) to investigate short term association between the number of ophthalmological emergencies, urban air pollution, and climatic conditions in Paris; (2) to determine the possibility of creating a surveillance system capable of monitoring trends in the relation between air pollution and ophthalmological emergencies.

Data collected were the daily number of examinations in the ophthalmological emergency department of the Quinze-Vingts National Centre of Ophthalmology, Paris, from 1 January 1999 to 31 December 1999. In addition to the overall daily number of examinations, one tenth of the daily clinical diagnoses were randomly selected, computerised, and classified into three categories consisting of medical emergencies, ocular traumas and surgical emergencies, conjunctivitis and related ocular surface problems. We included in the latter category discomfort eye syndrome, which includes a series of minor subjective symptoms (heaviness of the lids, foreign body sensation, burning, stinging, photophobia) in patients where no relevant clinical signs are observed.10 Medical emergencies, as well as trauma and surgical emergencies, were used as “control diagnoses,” for which we did not expect …

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