Half the world may be short-sighted by 2050

Myopia or short-sightedness is a condition wherein the light that enters the eye doesn’t focus directly on the retina but in front of it causing nearby objects to look clear but when looking at distant objects, it appears to be out of focus.  

According to a new study published in the journal Ophthalmology, half of the world’s population (nearly 5 billion) will be short-sighted (myopic) by 2050, with up to one-fifth of them (1 billion) at a significantly increased risk of blindness if current trends continue.

The upward trend in myopia could be attributed to “environmental factors (nurture), principally lifestyle changes resulting from a combination of decreased time outdoors and increased near work activities, among other factors,” say the authors from Brien Holden Vision Institute, University of New South Wales Australia and Singapore Eye Research Institute.

The number of people losing vision due to high myopia could increase seven-fold from 2000 to 2050 paving way to myopia becoming the leading cause of permanent blindness worldwide.

The findings are alarming and suggests that it is going to become a huge public health problem unless there is proper planning for comprehensive eye care services, along with possible treatments to control the progression of myopia.

The other ways to prevent development of myopic vision would be to reduce time staring at electronic devices, that require constant focussing up close and increasing time spent outdoors!

“We also need to ensure our children receive a regular eye examination from an optometrist or ophthalmologist, preferably each year, so that preventative strategies can be employed if they are at risk,” said co-author Professor Kovin Naidoo, CEO of Brien Holden Vision Institute.

“Furthermore there are other options such as specially designed spectacle lenses and contact lenses or drug interventions but increased investment in research is needed to improve the efficacy and access of such interventions.”

Source: Brien Holden Vision Institute

The original paper can be accessed here.

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