Dark forecast Poor eyesight: Half the world's population will be nearsighted by about 2050

Dark forecast Poor eyesight: Half the world's population will be nearsighted by about 2050

More and more people have to wear glasses or contact lenses due to myopia. Experts warn of a massive increase in those affected and expect that in 35 years every second person will be short-sighted. In order to treat ametropia at an early stage and thereby prevent severe restrictions in vision, regular examinations are particularly necessary.

More and more under 30s need glasses
According to the “Glasses Study 2014” from the Institute for Demoscopy Allensbach, more than 40 million people wear glasses in this country. This corresponds to almost two thirds of all adults, with the proportion among 20 to 29 year olds having more than doubled in the past 60 years. Accordingly, contact lenses are also being used more and more frequently. In many cases, myopia is the reason for the visual aid, because it is difficult to see into the distance. While close objects are recognized without problems, shortsighted objects see distant objects indistinctly and blurry.

A billion are said to be almost blind in 2050
Looking at the global development of this form of ametropia, there has been a massive increase in those affected over the past few years. While in 2000 almost 23 percent of the world's population was short-sighted (1.4 billion people), the percentage rose to 28.3 percent (1.9 million) ten years later. And that seems to be just the beginning, because, as a new study shows, it can be expected that in 35 years every second person worldwide will be short-sighted. According to the study authors from the Brien Holden Vision Institute, the University in New South Wales Australia and the Eye Research Institute in Singapore, one billion may even be almost blind in 2050 in the specialist magazine "Ophtalmology".

According to the authors, the reasons for the increasing number of people with poor eyesight worldwide are both environmental factors and drastic changes in living conditions. Because less and less time is spent outdoors, instead, more and more "close-up activities" take place, such as hours of working on the screen. A genetic predisposition also seems to play a role, but cannot explain the trends over time, the scientists add in their specialist article.

Young people most affected in East Asia
For their study, the researchers had examined a total of 145 studies since 1995, extrapolating the data for individual countries with UN forecasts for population development. It has been shown that the proportion of myopia increases most among young people in East Asia, where the prevalence of myopia is more than two times higher than among peers in other parts of the world. A possible cause could be the so-called “high pressure education systems” in countries such as Singapore, Korea, Taiwan and China, through which very young children have an increased amount of electronic devices “under their noses”.

Children should be examined once a year
In order to protect the eyesight of the children, the researchers must above all be guaranteed appropriate medical care. "We also need to make sure that our children have regular eye exams, preferably annually, so preventive measures can be taken in case of danger," study author Professor Kovin Naidoo of the Brien Holden Vision Institute said in a statement.

According to the expert, these measures would in particular include extensive activities in the fresh air and a reduced time with electronic devices such as cell phones or tablets, which are held close to the face and thus put a heavy strain on the eyes. "There are also other options, such as special glasses, contact lenses and drug interventions, but more research is needed to improve effectiveness and access," added Professor Kovin Naidoo. (No)

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