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Half the world population will be short-sighted in 2050

Researchers from Brien Holden Vision Institute, University of New South Wales Australia and Singapore Eye Research Institute have conducted a study that predicts there will be 5 billion myopic people by 2050. From those, 1 billion will be at high risk of blindness, which represents a seven fold increase from 2000 to 2050. The results were published in the journal Ophthalmology.

Myopia, also known as short-sightedness or near-sightedness, is the difficulty to see distant objects clearly. This condition, that affects 2 billion people, is due to the eye being longer than normal, causing the images to form in front of the retina, resulting in blurry vision. Although it can be corrected by wearing glasses or contact lenses or undergoing surgery, the incidence of myopia has increased dramatically in the last years, with one quarter of the world population affected by 2010. The causes of myopia are both genetic and environmental, but the spectacular increase is mainly due to the latter. Specialists cite lack of outdoor activities and excess of close-range acitivities, like computes work, as the main causes.

The worst aspect of the general increase in myopic people is the associated increase in people affected by high myopia, which can derive in myopic macular degeneration, cataract, glaucoma, retinal detachment and blindness. It is predicted that by 2050 there will be one billion people affected by high myopia.

The authors of the study warn about the impending health problem and the need for better eye care services and new treatments.