Study says half the world to be short-sighted by 2050

Saturday February 20 2016

The number of people with vision loss from high

The number of people with vision loss from high myopia is expected to increase seven-fold from 2000 to 2050, with myopia (shortsightedness) likely to become a leading cause of permanent blindness worldwide. PHOTO | FILE 

By CARLOS MUREITHI
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Half the world’s population will be short-sighted by 2050, with up to one-fifth of them – about 1 billion people – at a significantly increased risk of blindness if current trends

continue,  the University  of New South Wales in Australia said on its website on Tuesday, citing a study led by the institution.

The number of people with vision loss from high myopia is expected to increase seven-fold from 2000 to 2050, with myopia (shortsightedness) likely to become a leading cause of permanent blindness worldwide.

The study is by researchers at the Brien Holden Vision Institute at UNSW and the Singapore Eye Research Institute.

They attribute the rapid increase in the prevalence of myopia globally to “environmental factors, principally lifestyle changes resulting from a combination of decreased time outdoors

and increased near work activities, among other factors”.

The findings point to a major public health problem, with the authors suggesting that planning for comprehensive eye care services are needed to manage the rapid increase in high

myopes (a five-fold increase from 2000), along with the development of treatments to control the progression of myopia and prevent people from becoming highly myopic.

“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,” co-author Kovin Naidoo, CEO of the Brien Holden Vision Institute, said.

“These strategies may include increased time outdoors and reduced time spent on near-based activities including electronic devices that require constant focussing up close.