Newswise – CHICAGO, Illinois. – Allergies are one of the most common conditions in children, with eye allergies or allergic conjunctivitis affecting up to 30% of children worldwide. New research from Taiwan suggests there may be a simple way to lower that number and encourage fitness. Do not send children outside on days when the air quality is poor. Research has also shown that children exposed to large amounts of air pollution were at higher risk for allergic conjunctivitis. The researchers hope their study will promote physical activity in children and inspire policy makers to prioritize environmental protection. The data will be presented at AAO 2022, the 126e annual meeting of the American Academy of Ophthalmology.

“The increasing prevalence of allergic diseases, especially in the pediatric population, is a serious global public health concern,” said lead researcher Tsai-Chu Yeh, MD. “Although the symptoms of allergic conjunctivitis are often considered minor, they tend to have a chronic course with multiple recurring episodes and can negatively affect school performance and quality of life in children.”

Allergic conjunctivitis occurs when an allergen causes inflammation of the conjunctiva, the clear tissue covering the white of the eye. Symptoms include eye redness, itching and watery eyes.

To conduct the study, the researchers tracked the health data of 1,271,730 children who were screened at age 10. The data was collected from 2010 to 2018. They used Taiwan’s National Fitness Test to measure children’s physical fitness, a test that measures muscular endurance, muscle power, cardiorespiratory endurance and flexibility.

The researchers found that physically fit children were less likely to develop allergic conjunctivitis. People at increased risk tended to be overweight, have more exposure to air pollution, live in densely populated urban areas, and have a history of asthma and/or allergic rhinitis.

This research supports several previous studies that suggest a relationship between allergic conjunctivitis and air pollution levels.

About the American Academy of Ophthalmology

The American Academy of Ophthalmology is the world’s largest association of ophthalmologists and surgeons. A global community of 32,000 physicians, we protect sight and empower lives by setting the standards in ophthalmic education and advocating for our patients and the public. We innovate to advance our profession and ensure the delivery of the highest quality eye care. Our EyeSmart® program provides the public with the most trusted eye health information. For more information, visit aao.org.