Study: older adults living in hotter areas more likely to lose sight

An average temperature of 15 degrees Celsius was linked to a 44% higher chance of serious vision impairment than 10 degrees Celsius

A thermometer is attached to a wooden post. Behind the post is a green field and a river.
Pixabay/Mabel Amber

A study by Canadian researchers published in Ophthalmic Epidemiology has reported that older adults living in areas with a hotter average temperature have a higher risk of serious vision impairment than those living in a cooler climate.

The researchers found that higher average temperature in an area was consistently associated with an increased risk of severe vision impairment across all populations except for Hispanic older adults.

Those living in counties with an average temperature of more than 15 degrees Celsius were 44% more likely to experience severe vision impairment than those living in areas with an average temperature of less than 10 degrees Celsius.

Professor Esme Fuller-Thomson, of the University of Toronto, highlighted that the link between vision impairment and average temperature is very worrying if future research determines that the association is causal.

“With climate change, we are expecting a rise in global temperatures. It will be important to monitor if the prevalence of vision impairment among older adults increases in the future,” she said.

The authors note that the mechanism behind the connection is unknown, although potential causes could include increased ultraviolet light exposure, air pollution, infections, and folic acid degradation with increased temperature.

Fuller-Thomson shared that future work would also explore whether average temperatures are linked with other disabilities among older adults.