An increasing number of people are going blind due to climate change, according to recent research.
Researchers from Canada analyzed data from 1.7 million persons in all 50 US states to determine the prevalence of visual impairment. They discovered that the risk of severe visual impairment was about 50% higher in warmer locations than colder ones.
Stronger UV light causes discomfort and illness, and it also affects the cornea, lens, and retina. Since average worldwide temperatures have increased by two degrees Fahrenheit (1.1 degrees Celsius) since the late 1800s due to global warming, the findings were deemed ‘very alarming’ by scientists.
A gerontologist at the University of Toronto named Esme Fuller-Thomson co-authored the study. Thomson, who heads the Institute of Life Course Aging at the University of Toronto, said the link between temperature and vision impairment is very worrying.
People aged 65 and up were analyzed in research published in Ophthalmic Epidemiology between 2012 and 2017.
Participants were asked if the respondent “is blind or has serious difficulty seeing even when wearing glasses” for the poll.
Those who said “yes” were diagnosed with severe myopia.
Cataracts, in which the lens of the eye gets hazy and is one of the significant causes of blindness in the US, glaucoma, in which the optic nerve is injured; and conjunctivitis, in which the lining of the eye becomes inflamed owing to irritation or infection, were all disorders that patients were likely to have experienced.
Those in warmer states, such as Florida, Texas, and Georgia, were in greater danger than those in colder states, like New York and Maine, where the average temperature is below 50 degrees Fahrenheit.
Twenty-four percent more people in states like Virginia, Kentucky, and California — where yearly temperatures hover around 55 to 59.99 degrees Fahrenheit — suffer from visual impairment.
The percentage of people having trouble increased by 14% in states where the average temperature is between 50 and 54.99 degrees Fahrenheit.
Researchers cautioned that the study could not definitively link higher temperatures to eyesight impairment due to its observational nature. They emphasized the need for more studies.
However, in the research, the group led by the University of Toronto presented several potential explanations for why higher temperatures were associated with an increased risk of eye disorders.