Climate change will have a damaging impact on our health across the world. The climate crisis has been discussed for a few decades, but the urgency comes now as we head into the most crucial decade leading to 2030. We are seeing an increase in the frequency of extreme weather events such as severe storms and floods, prolonged heatwaves and droughts, and compounding threats to food security, that are destroying communities and nature. As the global temperature rises and greenhouse gases continue to be emitted, the Lancet has signalled a “code red” for the world’s future, meaning that across all indicators that track the impacts of climate change on human health, things are getting worse. Air pollution is responsible for seven million deaths worldwide, which will continue to rise along with new and emerging infectious diseases.
The devastating impact of climate change on health will flow on to affect eye health. It is predicted to increase the incidence of trachoma infections, cataracts, eye lesions, severe allergic eye diseases, glaucoma, age-related macular degeneration and eye injuries.
Extreme weather events will lead to a disruption of critical eye care services such as cataract surgeries and refraction error services including the supply of medicines and spectacles.
The combination of predicted increases in eye disease together with the disruption of eye care services will worsen the prevalence of vision impairment and blindness in our communities.
Poverty and poor health are inextricably linked, and climate change could force 100 million people into poverty by 2030 resulting in poorer health outcomes. Vulnerable populations such as women and girls, people living with disabilities, and people with vision impairment will be disproportionally affected by climate change.