Half of the world’s population could be short-sighted by 2050, research shows.

That’s a surge from the current 34 per cent that currently struggles with seeing distances.

The reason for the sudden decline in eyesight abilities is too much time spent looking at computer and smartphone screens and not enough time spent outside, according to the research published in the Opthalmology journal.

It predicts that 4.8 billion people – or 49.8 per cent of the world’s population – will require glasses by 2050. In 2010, 28.3 per cent of the global populus – or 2 billion people – suffered from short-sightedness, also known as myopia. So technology is nearly doubling the myopic population.

The changes “are widely considered to be driven by environmental factors,” said the researchers. “Principally lifestyle changes resulting from a combination of decreased time outdoors and increased near-work activities,” the term for time spent looking at screens.


The study shows that people living in high income countries, such as North America, Europe and parts of Asia, are more likely to be short sighted – as they spend more time looking at screens.

A separate study recently found that British children are twice as likely to be short-sighted now than 50 years ago. The research from Ulster University found 16.4 per cent of British children now suffer with short-sightedness compared with 7.2 per cent in the 1960s.

But the jury is still out on whether screen time is actually making our eyesight worse. Researchers at Ohio State University found staring at a computer screen for hours “does not cause short-sightedness”. The two decades study, which concluded last April, found “no association” between screen time and eyesight in 4,500 children.

“Near work has been thought to be a cause of myopia, or at least a risk factor, for more than 100 years,” said Karla Zadnik, dean of the College of Optometry at Ohio State University and lead author of the April study. “In this large dataset from an ethnically representative sample of children, we found no association.”

The two contradictory studies both agreed that children who spend more time outside are less likely to be short-sighted, but it is unknown what causes the protective effect, or if it’s related to screen time.

What is Myopia?

Short- or near-sightedness is a common eye condition that causes distant objects to appear blurred, while close objects can be seen clearly

  • Up to one in three people in the UK are affected
  •  The condition can range from mild, where treatment may not be required, to severe, where a person’s vision is significantly affected
  • Short-sightedness can develop in very young children but it usually starts around puberty and gets gradually worse
Signs that your child may be short-sighted can include:
  • Sitting too close to the TV
  • Complaining of headaches or tired eyes
  • Regularly rubbing their eyes
  • Needing to sit near the front of the class at school because they find it difficult to read the whiteboard

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Article Source: http://www.telegraph.co.uk/technology/2016/02/22/half-the-planet-will-need-glasses-by-2050-because-of-screens/

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