Expanding areas of arid land, air pollution and greater exposure to ultraviolet (UV) radiation all present potential health hazards to the eyes.

The cornea, eyelid, the sclera and even the lens—are all exposed directly to the environment. Rising temperatures and shifting atmospheric circulation patterns force dry air into regions. Drier air means that more people are likely to suffer from dry eye, a condition in which tears aren’t produced properly or evaporate too quickly. There is no evidence that drier conditions cause dry eye but they can accelerate symptoms in people who are prone to dry eye.

Air pollution has long been linked to respiratory disorders; more recently it’s been shown to play a role in eye disease.

Exposure to wood or charcoal cooking fires—ubiquitous in many developing countries—appears to accelerate the scarring caused by trachoma. Recurrent infections over a lifetime lead to scarring inside of the eyelids, which in turn causes the eyelashes to turn inward and brush against the cornea, eventually resulting in damage that impairs vision.

Ozone depletion can lead to higher levels of UV light exposure, which is a known risk factor for cortical cataract. Chronic exposure to the sun’s damaging rays can alter the orderly arrangement of proteins in the lens of the eye or damage lens epithelium, causing the lens to become cloudy. Wearing a hat can reduce UV exposure by 30%. Sunglasses, even simple plastic lenses that offer full UV protection, can reduce exposure by nearly 100% and should be used judiciously.

Entire community should take note of the severe damage that can be caused to the eyes. It becomes all the more important to note these precautions as Indians tend to be vitamin D deficient.