Today, the majority of visually impaired people are over 50, but vision loss can affect all ages. The number of short-sighted people is growing in Hungary, too, and not typically among the elderly, but among younger people: between the ages of 23 and 40 this eyesight problem is three times more common than among those over 60.
Family photos will soon show more grandchildren with glasses than grandparents, and the main reason for this is that the young generations are spending more and more time indoors, in artificial light, looking mainly at the screens of electronic devices, tablets or mobile phones for hours on end.
Due to this new lifestyle, myopia is becoming more and more common and in its severe form it can lead to vision loss or even blindness - warns the Hungarian Ophthalmological Society and the National Programme Committee for Good Vision.
The current situation is as follows: at least 2.2 billion people in the world suffer from vision loss, of which at least 1 billion cases could have been prevented or should still be treated.
In addition, 2.6 billion people are short-sighted, 312 million of them under the age of 19.
On top of all that, millions of people suffer from eye problems that increase the risk of vision loss: 196 million people have age-related macular degeneration (fundus calcification), 76 million have glaucoma (cataracts), and 146 million suffer from diabetic retinopathy (retinal disease).
Although cataracts are still the main cause of vision loss today, in about two decades from now people with diabetes will constitute the majority of blind people.
The number of people with diabetes is growing dramatically worldwide; there are already around eight hundred thousand to one million patients diagnosed with diabetes in Hungary, plus the same number of undiagnosed cases, and the number of diabetics who are blind or suffer from severe vision loss exceeds 32,000.
Nevertheless, one of the most common and fastest-growing eyesight problems today is myopia.
In 2017, 23 percent of the inhabitants of the earth were short-sighted, but given the current trends, by 2050 this may affect as many as 50 percent of humans.
This huge increase has already taken place in the Far East, where currently 90-95 percent of young people wear glasses, and the incidence of high myopia, which threatens with vision loss, has risen to 20 percent from the previous 1-2 percent.
The same trends can also be observed in Europe, and the latest Hungarian figures also indicate the change. At the 11th Public Health Conference at the beginning of September this year it was revealed that
51 percent of the more than 80,000 people examined between 2014 and 2019 in the framework of the “Comprehensive Health Screening Programme of Hungary” turned out to be short-sighted.
In addition, the data show that myopia is 3.3 times more common in younger age groups (23–40 years) than in those over 60. And why is this dangerous? Because it can lead to vision loss or blindness, as the eyeball stretches, becomes thinner and arched at the back (around the macula), retinal thinning and atrophy or ruptures in the retina occur, and the resulting bleeding and retinal detachment can impair vision.
The good news is that the development of myopia can be prevented. We need more leisure programmes so that our eyes have the opportunity to “look far away” and to be in natural light.
We also need to spend less time doing close-up work e.g. on our phone or tablet, etc; according to the current professional recommendation, we should avoid looking at close range for more than 30 minutes without a break.