By 2050, half the world's population will be short-sighted with many at risk
of blindness, reports a study on the rapidly increasing prevalence of myopia.
The findings point out to a major public health problem. The rapid increase of myopia and high myopia is largely driven by the use of electronic devices and spending less time outdoors.
The researchers estimated that 49.8 percent of the world's population, nearly five billion people, will be short-sighted by 2050. Up to one-fifth of them will be at a significantly increased risk of blindness if current trends continue.
"We also need to ensure our children receive a regular eye examination from an optometrist or ophthalmologist, preferably each year" said co-author Professor Kovin Naidoo.
If found at risk, preventative strategies can be used such as increasing time outdoors and reducing time spent on near based activities requiring constant focusing 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," he said.
Planning for comprehensive eye care services is needed to manage the rapid increase, as is development of treatments to control the progression of myopia, the authors said.