Myopia is expected to strike nearly 5 billion or half the world’s population by 2050, and one-fifth of them may lose their vision due to high myopia, according to a recent study.

The projected increase in the number of individuals suffering short-sightedness accounts for a seven-fold growth, up from 1,406 million in 2000. Myopia is seen to become a leading cause of permanent blindness, with rates continuing on an upward trend.

Factors driving the upsurge in myopia cases include significant lifestyle changes, such as reduced time spent outdoors and increased near work activities, said researchers from Brien Holden Vision Institute, University of New South Wales Australia and Singapore Eye Research Institute.

In Singapore, Korea, Taiwan, and China, so-called high-pressure educational systems and excessive use of electronic devices contribute to a changing lifestyle among children. Other causes include exposure to light, which may be directly related to time outdoors, peripheral hyperopia in the myopic eye (corrected and uncorrected) encouraging axial growth, and diet.

“Higher amounts of myopia have the potential to cause vision impairment by myopic macular degeneration or its comorbidities, cataract, retinal detachment and glaucoma, the risk of which increase with any increase in myopia,” the researchers wrote in an American Academy of Ophthalmology journal article.

Researchers estimated that the number of people with vision loss resulting from high myopia would increase up to seven times over 50 years. “[There will] be more people with myopia by 2050, but also that they will also be older and more susceptible to the pathologic effects of myopia than in 2000.”

The findings reflect an emerging major public health problem. The researchers suggested that planning for comprehensive eye care services in the management and prevention of myopic-related ocular complications and vision loss among people with high myopia is necessary to halt the rapid increase in high myopes. Myopia is expected to strike nearly 5 billion or half the world’s population by 2050, and one-fifth of them may lose their vision due to high myopia, a recent study has suggested.

The projected increase in the number of individuals suffering short-sightedness accounts for a seven-fold growth, up from 1,406 million in 2000. Myopia is seen to become a leading cause of permanent blindness, with rates continuing on an upward trend.

Factors driving the upsurge in myopia cases include significant lifestyle changes, such as reduced time spent outdoors and increased near work activities, said researchers from Brien Holden Vision Institute, University of New South Wales Australia and Singapore Eye Research Institute.

In Singapore, Korea, Taiwan, and China, so-called high-pressure educational systems and excessive use of electronic devices contribute to a changing lifestyle among children. Other causes include exposure to light, which may be directly related to time outdoors, peripheral hyperopia in the myopic eye (corrected and uncorrected) encouraging axial growth, and diet.

“Higher amounts of myopia have the potential to cause vision impairment by myopic macular degeneration or its comorbidities, cataract, retinal detachment and glaucoma, the risk of which increase with any increase in myopia,” the researchers wrote.

Researchers estimated that the number of people with vision loss resulting from high myopia would increase up to seven times over 50 years. “[There will] be more people with myopia by 2050, but also that they will also be older and more susceptible to the pathologic effects of myopia than in 2000.”

The findings reflect an emerging major public health problem. The researchers suggested that planning for comprehensive eye care services in the management and prevention of myopic-related ocular complications and vision loss among people with high myopia is necessary to halt the rapid increase in high myopes.