Nearly 90 percent of Asian school dropouts suffer from myopia or short-sightedness, says a BBC report.
Researchers, led by Ian Morgan from the Australian National University, said the extraordinary rise in the problem was being caused by students working very hard in school and missing out on outdoor light.
Up to one in five of these students could experience severe visual impairment and even blindness, the scientists said.
"They've gone from something like 20 percent myopia in the population to well over 80 percent, heading for 90 percent in young adults, and as they get adult it will just spread through the population. It certainly poses a major health problem," Morgan said.
People suffer from myopia if the vision is blurred beyond two meters or 6.6 feet. It is often caused by elongation of the eyeball that happens when people are young.
According to the research, the problem in Asia was caused by a combination of factors -- a commitment to education and lack of outdoor light.
Morgan said many children in southeast Asia spend long hours studying at school and doing their homework. This puts a lot of pressure on the eyes.
Cultural factors also play a part. Across many parts of southeast Asia, children often have a lunchtime nap. Morgan said the children are missing out on prime light to prevent myopia.
"As a result of massive educational pressures and the construction of a child's day, the amount of time they spend outside in bright light is minimized," he said.
Another concern was the number of students suffering from "high" myopia. Around 10 to 20 percent of students in Asian cities are suffering from this problem. It can lead to vision loss, visual impairment and even blindness.