Climate change generates negative impacts on human health. However, little is known about specific impacts on eye diseases, especially in arid and semi-arid areas where increases in air temperatures are expected. Therefore, the main goals of this research are: (i) to highlight the association between common eye diseases and environmental factors; and (ii) to analyze, through the available literature, the health expenditure involved in combating these diseases and the savings from mitigating the environmental factors that aggravate them. Mixed methods were used to assess the cross-variables (environmental factors, eye diseases, health costs). Considering Southern Spain as an example, our results showed that areas with similar climatic conditions could increase eye diseases due to a sustained increase in temperatures and torrential rains, among other factors. We highlight that an increase in eye diseases in Southern Spain is conditioned by the effects of climate change by up to 36.5%; the economic burden of the main eye diseases, extrapolated to the rest of the country, would represent an annual burden of 0.7% of Spain's Gross Domestic Product. In conclusion, the increase in eye diseases has a strong economic and social impact that could be reduced with proper management of the effects of climate change. We propose a new concept: disease sink, defined as any climate change mitigation action which reduces the incidence or morbidity of disease.
Keywords: Southern Spain; climate change; economic impact; environmental factors; ocular diseases.