Myopia: A public health crisis in waiting

The prevalence of myopia and high myopia is on the rise across the world. Recent work from the Brien Holden Vision Institute esti­mates that by 2050, 5 billion (50%) people will be myopic, 1 billion (10%) highly myopic. This may have important implications for planning comprehensive eye care services, including refractive ser­vices such as spectacles and contact lenses for correcting and slowing myopia progression. Optical and environmental interventions can help in preventing and managing high myopia related ocular complications and reduce the burden of myopia.

In recent times, the issue of myopia has featured heavily in mainstream media with headlines such as “the myopia boom”[1] and “night time contact lenses stop children becoming short-sighted.”[2] The growing concern surrounding myopia has already led to governments in some parts of the world taking measures to ameliorate this problem. In Taiwan, a law was passed “banning too much screen time,” and public health campaigns in Singapore encouraged children to spend more time outdoors. Given these messages, we may be left wondering about the size of the burden of myopia, and the strategies and/or solutions required to reduce it.

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