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Human eyesight is degrading right before our eyes, and the problem is growing

Photo: John Moore/Getty Images

Human eyeballs are growing longer, from front to back, at an alarming rate, resulting in a spike in the prevalence of myopia, or nearsightedness. Among Americans, rates of myopia have increased from 25% of people in 1971 to more than 40% today, according to the National Eye Institute. In the major cities of developed Asian countries, the rate exceeds 80% among students as they graduate from high school.

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Credit: Hans Neleman/Getty Images

By 2030, 40% of the world’s population will be nearsighted, up from 28% in 2010. The number of people with high myopia—severe short-sightedness—is projected to almost double during that time, affecting 516.7 million people. Researchers say increasingly digital, urban lifestyles are to blame for that declining vision, and East Asia, Southeast Asia, and North America will be particularly hard-hit. Already in Taiwan, more than 80% of teenagers have myopia.

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