Many scientists believe that the environment is changing and that this can impact human health, including eye health. Climate change is an example of an environmental change that can take its toll on the eyes.

Today, we look at the effect of environmental changes on the eyes and vision to understand how to safeguard your vision in the years to come.

Let’s start with the environment.

Why Is the Environment Changing?

Over the course of its long history, the Earth has undergone cyclical environmental changes, including warm periods and ice ages. At this point, however, many scientists highlight that the magnitude of the environmental changes we are witnessing cannot be explained by natural cycles alone.

The best example is global warming, which occurs at a faster rate than at any other time in recorded history. In the 20th century, the temperature of the planet rose by about 0.7 degrees Celsius, which is around ten times faster than during the warming periods occurring after ice ages in the last million years.

Human processes can impact the environment in many ways. Here are some of the most significant ways in which humans contribute to environmental changes.

The impact of climate change on the environment is significant. Changes in rainfall are leading to droughts, heat waves are becoming more severe, ice caps are melting, and the sea level is rising. Ecosystem changes are altering plant and animal lifecycles.

The climate change effect on the environment is unavoidable unless nations make a firm commitment to cut back greenhouse gas emissions and transition to renewable energy sources.

The Effect of Environmental Changes on the Eyes and Vision

Environmental changes have widespread effects on the eyes and vision. These range from obvious pollution that causes cancer to more subtle environmental changes that promote conditions like dry eye disease.

Climate change and the depletion of the ozone layer make overexposure to ultraviolet radiation more likely. This increases the risk for photoconjunctivitis, acute solar retinopathy, cataracts, macular degeneration, and other serious conditions.

In some parts of the world, climate change can increase the risk for certain eye infections like trachoma, which can cause irreversible blindness. It can also lead to food insecurity that can cause vitamin deficiencies. Vitamin A or vitamin E deficiency can affect vision and lead to vision loss.

Climate change is also increasing the likelihood of extreme weather events. Strong rains, tornadoes, or cyclones can all increase the risk of physical injuries including eye injuries. Meanwhile, drought and low humidity levels are creating environmental conditions that lead to dry eye disease.

Air pollution can cause eye redness, inflammation, light sensitivity, and a host of other symptoms. Over time, air pollution may also lead to the development of cataracts and eye cancer.

Alongside weather changes, air pollution may also contribute to allergic conjunctivitis. Climate change is also altering plant behavior, which can promote allergic reactions.

Climate change can also exacerbate poverty in certain parts of the world. This may affect the availability of healthcare services, making it harder for some people to get regular eye exams.

How to Safeguard Your Vision

You can mitigate the effects of many environmental changes by being proactive about eye health. Small changes can make a big difference. Here are a few things you can do.

  • Wear sunglasses with UV protection outdoors to filter out harmful sun rays.
  • Wear wraparound glasses on windy days, or at least normal glasses. Wind is a risk factor for dry eye disease.
  • Eat a healthy diet rich in nutrients for your eyes. Read more about the best foods for eye health.
  • Apply a warm compress regularly to soothe your eyes and restore moisture to them.
  • Go to regular eye exams. Comprehensive eye exams can catch early dry eye disease and other diseases of the eye caused by environmental factors that start with subtle symptoms.
  • Start using a humidifier indoors. Compensate for low humidity levels by adding a humidifier to your indoor space both at home and at work.
  • Stay hydrated. Like most organs of your body, your eyes are made mostly of water. Alcohol and caffeine may promote dehydration and with it, the risk of dry eye, so consider reducing their use and drinking plenty of water.
  • Take an eye health supplement. SightC provides a healthy dose of antioxidants and other nutrients that safeguard your eyes from free radicals resulting from UV radiation and pollution.

Keeping Your Eyes Healthy in the Face of Environmental Changes

The environment is changing even as we speak, and our eyes and vision are at risk. While the effects of climate change, air pollution, or the thinning ozone layer on the eyes may not be obvious, they are a cause of concern.

While some environmental changes are beyond your control, proactively safeguarding your vision can help. It all starts with small things like wearing sunglasses, eating a healthy diet, and taking an eye health supplement.

Lastly, don’t forget that you can play your part in reducing the impact of human activities on the environment. Don’t buy things you don’t need, dispose of waste selectively, make eco-friendly purchases, walk or ride a bicycle instead of driving everywhere. Over the course of your lifetime, these can make a difference.

For an even more substantial impact, become aware of environmental policies and movements in your area and support them in any way you can. Also, consider raising awareness about environmental problems and solutions among your friends and family. Every bit of effort counts toward preserving the planet.

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