Half the world’s population will be short-sighted by 2050: study

A study by Brien Holden Vision Institute says one fifth of those suffering from myopia will face a higher risk of blindness if the current trends continue


Photo: iStockphoto
Photo: iStockphoto

New Delhi: Nearly five billion people or half the world’s population is expected to suffer from blurred distant vision or short-sightedness by 2050, revealed a study carried out by Brien Holden Vision Institute, a non-profit global research and public health organization.

The study estimated that one fifth of those suffering from short-sightedness or myopia will face a higher risk of blindness if the current trends continue.

The authors carried out a review and analysis of the prevalence of myopia, which causes short-sightedness, and estimated the trends from 2000 to 2050 using data published since 1995. The researchers used data from 145 studies covering 2.1 million participants.

The study published in the journal Ophthalmology on Wednesday said that myopia will become a leading cause of permanent blindness worldwide.

The increasing cases of myopia globally, authors say, is due to environmental factors and lifestyle changes resulting from a combination of decreased time outdoors and increased near-work activities.

“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,” said co-author Kovin Naidoo, chief executive of Brien Holden Vision Institute in a press release.

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

The study showed that while globally the prevalence of myopia in population would rise from 22.9% in 2000 to 49.8% in 2050, in South Asia it would rise from 14.4% in 2000 to 53% in 2050.

“Increased investment in research is needed to improve the efficacy and access of such interventions,” Naidoo said.