Kids at risk of myopia may need to spend less time on electronic devices, says study on rapidly increasing global rates of short-sightedness.
Half the world's population will be short-sighted by 2050 with many at risk of blindness, says a study on the rapidly increasing prevalence of myopia.
The researchers estimate that it will affect 55.1 per cent of the Australasian population by then, up from 19.7 per cent in 2000, if current trends continue.
The rapid increase of myopia and high myopia is widely considered to be largely driven by people spending less time outdoors and more time on "near based activities" including using electronic devices.
The findings point to a major public health problem, say the authors from Brien Holden Vision Institute, University of New South Wales Australia and Singapore Eye Research Institute.
Their systematic review and meta-analysis study, published in the journal Ophthalmology, included data from 145 studies.
Myopia is a common cause of vision loss, with uncorrected myopia the leading cause of distance vision impairment globally.
The researchers estimated that 49.8 per cent of the world's population, nearly five billion people, will be short-sighted by 2050.
Up to one-fifth of them will be at a significantly increased risk of blindness if current trends continue.
The number with vision loss from high myopia is expected to increase seven-fold from 2000 to 2050, with myopia to become a leading cause of permanent blindness worldwide.
Planning for comprehensive eye care services is needed to manage the rapid increase, as is development of treatments to control the progression of myopia, the authors said.
"We also need to ensure our children receive a regular eye examination from an optometrist or ophthalmologist, preferably each year" said co-author Professor Kovin Naidoo.
If found at risk, preventative strategies can be used such as increasing time outdoors and reducing time spent on near based activities requiring constant focusing up close.
"Furthermore, there are other options such as specially-designed spectacle lenses and contact lenses or drug interventions but increased investment in research is needed to improve the efficacy and access of such interventions," he said.