A global study has forecasted that nearly 10 percent of global population will be at high risk of blindness by 2050 if optical treatments and behavioural interventions are not developed and put into practice. It is also estimated that half the world’s population – nearly 5 billion people – will need glasses as they will suffer from myopia by 2050.

Myopia, or short-sightedness, is a visual impairment rapidly affecting people across the globe. Lifestyle changes brought about by revolutions in technology – growing amounts of time spent in front of laptops, TVs and tablet screens as well as staying awake longer hours have a role to play in increasing myopia diagnoses.

Kovin Naidoo, acting CEO of Brian Holden Vision Institute, said, “Parents should encourage their children to spend time outdoors for at least two hours each day,” in a press release. “They should also ensure children don’t spend too much time on electronic devices, such as tablets, mobile phones, electronic games, television and other activities which requires them to focus close up for long periods,” he added.

According to Brian Holden Vision Institute, the prevalence of genetic myopia among Australian kids is 43.6 percent for both parents and 14.9 percent for one parent with myopia. Among children whose parents do not have myopia, 7.6 percent suffer from the condition and need glasses to correct their vision.

Myopia prevalence in East Asia has seen a rapid increase. Urban areas of Hong Kong, Taiwan, China, Singapore, Japan and Korea have 80 to 90 percent occurrence in school leaving children. However, western countries such as Australia and the US have seen a marked increase in the last few decades.

“The major concern is with the vast number of people who are likely to progress to high levels of myopia, which brings with it a significantly increased risk of potentially blinding conditions and vision impairment,” said Naidoo. “Myopia is not curable or reversible, but there are promising interventions … that can help slow the progression and prevent people becoming highly myopic,” he added.

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