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Half the world to be short-sighted by 2050

Sydney, Australia, 12 February 2016 : Half 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, says a study published in the journal Ophthalmology this week.

  • 5 billion to be short-sighted (myopic) by the year 2050
  • One in ten at risk of blindness
  • Myopia to become a leading cause of permanent blindness worldwide
  • Parents advised to have children’s eyes checked regularly, improve time outdoors and moderate time on near based activities including electronic devices

Read the paper here: http://www.aaojournal.org/article/S0161-6420%2816%2900025-7/fulltext

What is myopia?

Myopia, also known as 'short-sightedness' or 'near-sightedness', causes people to have difficulty seeing distant objects clearly. It's estimated that there are currently 2 billion myopic people in the world, a figure that is growing rapidly.

The myopic eye is stronger than the non-myopic eye (often because the eye is longer). This means that instead of focusing on the back of the eye (the retina), light focuses in front of it, causing blurred vision.

  • Myopia can be corrected by spectacles, contact lenses and refractive surgery.
  • Myopia usually begins in childhood at school age (six years and onwards) and can worsen until early adult years. This is referred to as youth-onset or juvenile-onset myopia. It can also occur in adults (ages 20 to 40) with no prior history of problems in childhood, termed early adult-onset myopia. One can also be born with high levels of myopia (congenital myopia)
  • Myopia affects about 1 in 4 people in Australia, 1 in 3 in America and 1 in 2 in some Asian countries. In 2010, it affected more than a quarter of the world’s population.
  • The incidence of myopia has been rapidly increasing across the world. By 2020, it is estimated that the number of people with myopia will grow to one third of the world’s population (2.6 billion) and by 2050 there will be 4.8 billion myopes (around half the world's population).
  • The causes of myopia are both genetic and environmental. It is suggested that increased urbanisation and close-range activities e.g. reading and computer work, are increasing the incidence of myopia.
  • Growing levels of high myopia are increasing the risks of serious eye conditions, such as myopic macular degeneration, cataract, glaucoma and retinal detachment, many of which may lead to permanent blindness.
  • It is predicted that by 2050 there will be almost 1 billion high myopes globally.

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