By 2050, half of the world’s population will be vision impaired as a lack of outdoor activities is framed for damaging eyesight.
Twenty per cent of those people will be diagnosed as highly myopic, which results in permanent blindness or life-threatening eye diseases.
In Australia, the number of people who are vision impaired will increase from four million currently to 22 million by 2050, according to research by the Brien Holden Vision Institute (BHVI).
BHVI Chief Executive Officer Professor Kovin Naidoo said it was an emerging public health crisis.
There is no research to say that kids must stop using their devices but they must counter balance that time being outside
Professor Naidoo said there were two theories behind the causes of myopia including the fact that children are doing more ‘near’ sighted work or activities and they were spending less time outside, which limits the amount of natural light the eye receives as it develops and ability to use the eye to look longer distances.
He said there was evidence that if children spend at least two hours per day outside it will protect them from developing near sightedness.
“There is no research to say that kids must stop using their devices but they must counter balance that time being outside.”
“It’s going to affect all of us, we are going to have to pay more taxes for our health care. What we are seeing more cases of permanent eye damage occur, which will impact the developed population and it’s not cheap.”
Dr. Pauline Kang, Senior Lecturer at the School of Optometry and Vision Science, and coordinator of the UNSW Myopia Clinic, said she was seeing kids develop myopia or short-sightedness at increasingly younger ages and more children developing it.
"As a result, we are seeing a lot more people reaching adulthood with high degrees of myopia.”
Myopia currently has been linked to environmental and genetic factors but more research is needed.
“There are some groups which may have a higher risk, for example, if your parents are myopic, but ultimately it can affect anyone.” Dr. Kang said.