Rising Temperatures Linked to Serious Vision Impairment in Older Adults

Rising Temperatures Linked to Serious Vision Impairment in Older Adults

July 03, 2023

A study on 1.7 million older people residing in various American counties has warned that individuals aged 65 and above living in warmer regions are more prone to experiencing severe vision impairment compared to those in cooler regions.

According to the study, individuals residing in areas with an average temperature ranging from 10-12 degrees Celsius faced a 14% higher likelihood of severe vision impairment, while those in areas with an average temperature between 12 and 15.55 degrees Celsius faced a 24% higher likelihood. Furthermore, individuals living in counties with an average temperature of 15.5 degrees Celsius or higher had a 44% higher likelihood of severe vision impairment, as compared to those living in areas with an average temperature of less than 10 degrees Celsius.

Professor Esme Fuller-Thomson, the study's first author from the University of Toronto, expressed concern about the association between vision impairment and average county temperature. She highlighted the importance of future research in determining causality and monitoring the prevalence of vision impairment among older adults as global temperatures rise due to climate change.

The study, published in the journal Ophthalmic Epidemiology, revealed a strong relationship between average temperature and severe vision impairment, regardless of participants' age, sex, income, or education. The association between higher county temperature and serious vision impairment was particularly pronounced among individuals aged 65 to 79 compared to those aged 80 or older, as well as among males compared to females. However, the underlying mechanism behind this link between average temperature and severe vision impairment remains unknown.

ZhiDi Deng, a pharmacy graduate from the University of Toronto and co-author of the study, highlighted the significance of addressing vision impairments and their consequences. Severe vision impairment can increase the risk of falls, fractures, and negatively impact the quality of life for older adults. Additionally, it imposes significant costs on the US economy each year. Therefore, the link between temperature and vision impairment raises concerns.

The research team analyzed data from 1.7 million older adults residing in communities or institutions and compared their vision health with average temperature data obtained from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration.