Half the population of the world is likely to become myopic (nearsighted) by 2050, according to a recent study conducted by researchers in Singapore and Australia. About one-fifth of these individuals are at a high risk of becoming blind as well.
In a study featured in the journal Ophthalmology, scientists from the Singapore Eye Research Institute and the University of New South Wales (UNSW) discovered that more people are likely to go blind in the next 34 years because of a condition known as high myopia.
High myopia occurs when a person develops eyesight of lower than -6.00 diopters as a result of their eyes having grown in length.
While the eyes of the individual with the condition are considered healthy, he or she is more susceptible to developing various eye conditions as well as other changes typically linked with the stretching of the retinas and lengthening of the eyes.
People with high myopia also have a higher risk of experiencing a detachment of their retina. This occurs when the retina of a person sustains a tear or hole because of scratching.
Fluids from within the eyes can then leak through this tear and behind the retina. This results in the retina coming off from the back of the person's eye, causing permanent vision loss.
Occurrence Of Vision Loss Due To High Myopia
According to the researchers, there is a chance that the number of people who will lose their vision because of high myopia will increase by seven-fold by 2050. This would push myopia to become one of the leading causes of permanent blindness in the world.
The research team is still unsure what could be causing the rapid increase in the occurrence of myopia around the world, but they believe that the prevalent sedentary lifestyle of people, such as spending too much time using mobile devices or staring at a computer screen, combined with other environmental factors could play a major role in the phenomenon.
The findings of the study highlight a growing public health problem, which could be stemmed by offering comprehensive eye care programs for people who are highly at risk for developing high myopia. Better treatments are also needed to help curb the progression of myopia in people and even prevent the condition from starting in the first place.
"We 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," Professor Kovin Naidoo, head of UNSW's 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 focusing up close."