Washington D.C.: As per a recent study, up to 1 billion people could be at risk of blindness by the middle of the century if an emerging short-sightedness (myopia) epidemic is ignored say researchers at the Brien Holden Vision Institute.
Half the world's population (nearly 5 billion) will be myopic by 2050 they predict, with up to one-fifth of them (1 billion) in the high myopia category and at a significantly increased risk of blindness, if behavioural interventions and optical treatments are not developed and implemented. Currently, it's estimated that over 2 billion people in the world suffer from myopia.
Brien Holden Vision Institute is calling on the world - from governments and health agencies, to civil society, parents and schools - to protect the eye health of every child and adult and meet this major public health challenge of our time, said Professor Kovin Naidoo.
"Firstly, the public must be made aware that this threat exists. Secondly, we need researchers and public health practitioners to develop effective solutions. Thirdly, eye care professionals need to be better equipped to manage patients at risk," added Naidoo.
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.
He noted that myopia is not curable or reversible, but there are promising interventions using optical and behavioural approaches that can help slow the progression and prevent people becoming highly myopic.
The study is presented at Association for Research in Vision and Opthalmology meeting.