Half the world’s population is expected to be short-sighted (myopic) by 2050, with one of the main factors being over-use and reliance on technology.
A new study published by Ophthalmology has found nearly 5 billion people will be myopic in the next thirty years, with up to one-fifth of them (1 billion) at a significantly increased risk of blindness if current trends continue.
According to the study, the rapid increase in the prevalence of myopia globally is attributed to "environmental factors (nurture), principally lifestyle changes resulting from a combination of decreased time outdoors and increased near work activities."
The study recommends annual eye examinations -- particularly for children -- so that preventative measures can be used if they are at risk. The findings point to a major public health problem, with the authors suggesting that planning for comprehensive eye care services is needed to manage the rapid increase in high myopes (a five-fold increase from 2000), along with the development of treatments to control the progression of myopia and prevent people from becoming very short-sighted.
But there are simple ways you can look after the health of your eyes -- whether or not you already wear glasses for short-sightedness. Sheila Zhou is a scientist with USANA, specialising in eye health. She told The Huffington Post Australia many of us are suffering from eye fatigue.
“We are using our eyes to stare at computer screens, televisions, and mobile phones more than ever before, which is linked to eye fatigue and an increase in eye-related issues. But luckily, there are ways to improve your vision that don’t mean sacrificing your electronic devices," Zhou said.
Eat for your eyes
Eyes require multiple nutrients to function efficiently. Most of these nutrients can easily be consumed on a day-to-day basis. Antioxidants such as beta-carotene and lutein protect the macula from sun damage, and are found in most yellow and green vegetables, as well as sweet potatoes, pumpkin and carrots.
These vegetables also contain vitamin, A, C and E which are essential to eyesight protection. DHA, which is a type of omega-3 essential fatty acid found in cold water fish, also provides structural support to cell membranes of retina which boosts eye health. If you’re looking to boost your DHA levels, but can’t stand the taste of fish, try fish oil supplements as many come without the usual ‘fishy’ aftertaste.
Rest your eyes
Getting an ample amount of sleep is one of the keys to quality eye health as it allows them to rest, repair and recover. By not getting enough sleep, your vision may weaken over time, so consider it a great excuse to take a nap and head to bed early. Also, if you work on a computer screen all day, aim to rest your eyes for 10 minutes for every 50 minutes spent in front of a screen.
When you're resting your eyes, the best thing to do is to look out the window, if possible. Try to focus on nature. Looking at greenery is good for your eyes because studies have shown that the colour green is very soothing to the eyes.
Books are better than technology
It sounds obvious but reading a book is better for your eyes than reading an iPad or iPhone. With a book, you’re not forced to stare back at the glare of the screen. Also, the font on a screen is generally small so you have to strain your eyes to read. It doesn't mean you have to give up all your technology but it's a good idea to give your eyes a break and read a book instead.