Myopia on the Rise – A Global Health Concern
Myopia, or near-sightedness, becomes a significant public health issue worldwide.
Myopia Epidemic: A Vision Condition Sweeping the Globe
The prevalence of myopia, also known as near-sightedness, is surging, and it has now become a major public health concern globally. An increasing number of individuals are experiencing difficulty in seeing objects at a distance, while their close-range vision remains unaffected. Researchers predict that by 2050, nearly half of the global population could be myopic, highlighting the urgent need to address this alarming trend.
Genetic and Social Factors: India’s Unique Myopia Landscape
India, with its diverse geo-biological variations and a mix of genetics and social factors, plays a crucial role in the development of myopia. Studies suggest that myopia is particularly prevalent in urban Asian cities, where young adults have reported high rates of myopia, ranging from 80% to 90%. As these individuals age, the pathologic changes associated with myopia are likely to increase significantly.
Myopia’s Ominous Impact on Eye Health
Myopia doesn’t just impair distant vision; it can lead to several serious eye conditions. Researchers have discovered that myopia often results in an abnormal increase in axial length. When the axial length exceeds 25mm, individuals are at higher risk of developing issues like cataracts and glaucoma. Moreover, choroidal thinning at sub-foveal, macular, and peripapillary regions has been linked to myopic pathologic lesions such as choroidal neovascularization and chorio-retinal atrophy.
The Soaring Incidence in Older Age
Myopia is not limited to young adults; older age groups are also significantly affected. Studies indicate that myopia is prevalent in 15% of those aged 49 or over and up to 38.7% in people between 40 to 79 years. In particular, high myopia is associated with cataracts and primary open-angle glaucoma, a leading cause of blindness worldwide.
The Socio-Economic Impact
Myopia’s influence extends beyond just eye health; it has severe socio-economic consequences. Uncorrected myopia in 2015 led to a staggering $244 billion of potential lost productivity globally. Early detection and appropriate interventions are critical to mitigating the risks associated with myopia, which can impose disabilities and lifelong challenges.
Addressing the Myopia Crisis
Optical, environmental, and pharmaceutical strategies have been developed to prevent and slow down myopia’s progression. Treatments like LASIK surgery, Phakic intraocular lenses, and intraocular lens implants offer hope for affected individuals. However, a coordinated global effort is essential to address the myopia crisis effectively. Researchers and policymakers must collaborate to develop novel concepts and interventions to tackle this growing issue.