Nearly half of the population of the world (approximately 5 billion people) would be shortsighted by the year 2050.
According to a study by researchers from Brien Holden Vision Institute, University of New South Wales Australia and Singapore Eye Research Institute, about 5 billion people (constituting nearly half of the population at that time) would be the patient of myopia (a disease resulting in shortsightedness) by the year 2050. This increase in the number of patients with myopia would be about 7-times from 2000 to 2020.
In those 5 billion people, nearly 1 billion people would face significantly increased chances of having blindness, if the present trend continues. Myopia would also become the leading cause of blindness in the world.
“Myopia and high myopia estimates from 2000 to 2050 suggest significant increases in prevalences globally, with implications for planning services, including managing and preventing myopia-related ocular complications and vision loss among almost 1 billion people with high myopia,” researchers concluded in the study.
According to authors of the study, “Environmental factors (nurture), principally lifestyle changes resulting from a combination of decreased time outdoors and increased near work activities, among other factors,” are responsible for this trend in short-sightedness.
Researchers are of opinion that considering this trend, it is important to develop more comprehensive eye care services.
“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,” stated co-author Professor Kovin Naidoo, CEO of Brien Holden Vision Institute. “These strategies may include increased time outdoors and reduced time spent on near based activities including electronic devices that require constant focussing up close.
“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.”
Holden, B., Fricke, T., Wilson, D., Jong, M., Naidoo, K., Sankaridurg, P., Wong, T., Naduvilath, T., & Resnikoff, S. (2016). Global Prevalence of Myopia and High Myopia and Temporal Trends from 2000 through 2050 Ophthalmology DOI: 10.1016/j.ophtha.2016.01.006