Eye conditions & symptoms 6 min read

Exploring the Global Epidemic of Myopia

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An epidemic is defined as a widespread occurrence of a condition at the same time. With more than 2 billion people living with myopia across the world, it is no wonder professionals are using the phrase epidemic.

A few facts on the global spread of myopia

While it can be a scary word to use when it comes to healthcare, it simply requires a little more education to understand what myopia is and how it may be prevented or slowed down.

It has been predicted that by 2050, half the world’s population could have myopia (short-sightedness). Myopia has a higher prevalence in east Asia; China, Japan and Singapore. The rates are lower in Australia, Europe and America.

What is causing myopia to be so widespread?

You no doubt know someone who is short-sighted; it might even be you or your child. While there is no single definitive cause for the increase of myopia, there are some factors that may increase your risk of developing short-sightedness. By understanding these factors, you can follow the right advice in order to protect your vision.

Genetics can play a part in becoming myopic, as children could be at higher risk when the parents are short-sighted. The risk is higher if both parents have myopia, and there is still a high risk even if only one parent has myopia.

Lifestyle influences can also have a role in your eye health. Modern lifestyles now include lower levels of outdoor activity than in previous generations, and many hobbies include prolonged near-vision focus such as reading and playing on digital devices. Think about it; only a few decades ago, you wouldn’t have spent as much time on digital devices as you do now. 

You put your eyes through a lot every day without even realising it! A lot of time spent focusing on something close up can cause your eyes to feel strained, and in children, it has been shown to increase the probability of developing myopia. Taking regular breaks and going outdoors is an easy way to decrease your chances of encountering vision problems.

Education pressures could also lead to an increased risk of myopia, particularly in children. Stressful studying and revising may mean less exposure to natural light, as well as long periods of focusing on close-up material. It has been shown that by spending more time outdoors as a child, you can reduce your risk of developing myopia. It is crucial that your children spend just as much time playing outdoors as they do sat inside.

How to protect your vision from myopia

It may sound rather daunting and there is no doubt you want to do everything you can to protect yourself and your children from any health problems. You might be glad to know that preventing and even slowing down the progress of myopia is possible. 

The most important thing to remember is to attend regular eye examinations. Every 2 years is sufficient unless you have been told otherwise by your optician. Uncorrected eyesight can sometimes lead to more vision problems, but by staying up-to-date with your eye examinations, you are already taking a step in the right direction to protect your vision. This goes for both adults and children! 

There is currently no cure for short-sightedness, as it relates to the shape of your eye, but by understanding what causes it, you can help to reduce the risk of it developing or progressing further. 

If you are worried about your eye health or your child’s vision, be sure to take a look at our guides on myopia including recognising if your child is short-sighted and understanding more about the causes.

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