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How Does Climate Change Affect Our Eye Health?

Since the 20th century, climate change has been causing physical damage to our precious earth. We know the damage, such as increased earthquakes, volcanic activities, hurricanes, typhoons, tsunamis, and flooding as the water level rises. Today, weather is becoming extremely harsh in many places globally because man causes too much carbon dioxide in our atmosphere. 

These extreme climatic activities have threatened life forms: water, air and land. Our health is threatened by global warming, and if it is not slowed down or reversed, then we are in serious trouble.

How Does Climate Change Affect Our Eye Health?

Unfortunately, climate change casts a shadow over our eye health in several ways. One significant impact is the increased exposure to ultraviolet (UV) radiation due to ozone depletion caused by greenhouse gas emissions. This heightened UV exposure threatens our eyes, contributing to the development of cataracts, macular degeneration, and other eye problems. Shockingly, the World Health Organisation estimates that 20% of cataracts are directly linked to UV overexposure, with studies predicting a potential surge of 200,000 additional cataract cases by 2050.

Moreover, the escalating frequency of wildfires, dust storms, and intensified smog, attributed to rising temperatures, contributes to higher air pollution. These pollutants become irritants that inflame the eyes, leading to conditions such as dry eye, conjunctivitis (pink eye), and, more concerning, potential vision impairment. Studies have even suggested a worrisome link between air pollution and glaucoma, a leading cause of blindness globally.

Climate change-induced extreme weather events, including floods and storms, directly threaten our eyes. Debris and flying objects during such events can cause injuries, emphasising the immediate risks associated with climate-related changes. Additionally, disruptions to healthcare infrastructure and population displacement during extreme weather events can create barriers to accessing essential eye care, exacerbating the overall impact on eye health.

The repercussions of climate change are particularly severe for vulnerable populations. Individuals with pre-existing eye conditions or weakened immune systems face an elevated risk of experiencing adverse effects on their vision. Furthermore, children and older adults, considered particularly vulnerable demographics, bear the brunt of climate change’s adverse impact on eye health. Addressing these challenges requires a multifaceted approach that combines climate action with targeted healthcare interventions to safeguard the well-being of individuals and communities.

What Can We Do?

As we navigate the intricate relationship between climate change and our eye health, proactive measures become our shield against environmental assaults. The evidence is clear – the consequences of climate change extend beyond rising temperatures and altered landscapes, reaching into the fabric of our well-being, including the health of our eyes.

Protect your eyes: Wear UV-protective sunglasses and hats outdoors, even on cloudy days.

Reduce environmental impact: Support policies and actions addressing climate change and air pollution.

Maintain regular eye exams: Early detection and treatment of eye problems can help prevent vision loss.

Be prepared for emergencies: Have a plan for protecting your eyes during extreme weather events.

The most profound impact we can make stretches beyond individual actions – it extends to collective efforts to save the environment. By adopting sustainable practices, supporting eco-friendly policies, and actively contributing to the global movement to slow global warming, we protect our eyes and nurture the planet for future generations. As we fortify our vision, let us also fortify our commitment to a sustainable and resilient world where the health of our eyes mirrors the health of the environment we call home.

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