Higher Average Environmental Temperature Linked to Serious Vision Impairment Among Older Americans

American adults 65 years old and older living in warmer regions are more likely to have serious vision impairment than their peers living in cooler regions, according to a recent study published June 20, 2023 in the journal Ophthalmic Epidemiology. The open-access article is titled “Association Between Area Temperature and Severe Vision Impairment in a Nationally Representative Sample of Older Americans.” Compared to those who lived in counties with average temperature of less than 50°F (< 10 °C), the odds of severe vision impairment were 14% higher for those who lived in counties with average temperature between 50-54.99°F, 24% higher for those between 55-59.99°F, and 44% higher for those in counties with average temperature at 60°F (15.5 °C) or above. “This link between vision impairment and average county temperature is very worrying if future research determines that the association is causal” says first author Professor Esme Fuller-Thomson, “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.” Dr. Fuller-Thomson is the Director of the University of Toronto’s Institute of Life Course and Aging and is a Professor in the Factor-Inwentash Faculty of Social Work and the Department of Family and Community Medicine.
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