One Billion People May Be at Risk of Blindness by 2050

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BlindnessAccording to scientists, approximately one billion people could be at risk of blindness by 2050 if myopia, a nearsightedness epidemic, is ignored.

Currently, more than two billion people worldwide suffer from myopia—a number that is expected to rise to nearly five billion by 2050. Up to one-fifth of these patients are at an increased risk of blindness if optical treatments aren’t developed, note researchers at the Brien Holden Vision Institute.

According to experts at the Brien Holden Vision Institute, although myopia is not curable or reversible, there are promising interventions involving optical and behavioral approaches that can help slow progression. Currently, there are specialized contact lenses and glasses that have shown promise in controlling the progression of myopia. The Brien Holden Vision Institute is working toward developing a myopia management program to help manage myopia patients and promote clinical interventions.

Professor Kovin Naidoo, acting CEO of the Brien Holden Vision Institute, is calling on health agencies, civil societies, parents, and schools to be aware of the potential threat and for public health practitioners to develop more effective solutions to treat myopia and manage patients at risk. He suggests that reducing the progression of myopia in individuals by 50% will prevent almost 90% of cases from accelerating to high levels.

“Parents should encourage their children to spend time outdoors for at least two hours each day,” suggests Naidoo, who notes that parents should make sure their children don’t spend too much time using electronic devices, cell phones, or tablets or doing any activity that required them to focus “close-up” for long periods of time. “Teachers and parents should ensure that children are screened for vision problems at regular intervals and can also be vigilant in detecting and acting on vision problems among children,” he adds.

Myopia is dominant in East Asia, particularly the urban areas of China, Singapore, Hong Kong, Taiwan, Korea, and Japan. In Western countries, such as the United States, statistics show that the rate has accelerated in adults in the past three decades, from approximately 25% in the early 1970s to 42% in 2004.

Source for Today’s Article:
“Up to one billion people at risk of blindness by 2050,” Science Daily web site, October 8, 2015; www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2015/10/151008083743.htm.

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