Researchers at the Brien Holden Institute recently conducted a systematic review and meta-analysis of 17 studies (137,514 participants) to better understand the lasting impact of visual impairment and blindness associated with myopic macular degeneration (MMD)—and the results are worrisome.

They found roughly 10 million people had impairment due to MMD in 2015, a total prevalence of 0.13%. Of those 10 million, 3.3 million were blind. Even more concerning is the predictive value of the data, which suggests visual impairment from MMD could grow to 55.7 million by 2050 without changing the current interventions. Blindness from the condition could reach 18.5 million by 2050.

This meta-analysis and predictive modeling could have “significant implications for planning comprehensive eye care services globally,” including managing and potentially preventing complications that “may occur among almost a billion people with high myopia,” the researchers wrote.

They suggest myopia prevention strategies, such as increased outdoor time or new education models, could help reduce this predicted burden. Treatments to minimize progression to MMD, including low-dose atropine, spectacles and contact lenses, could also play a significant role, as could improved patient access to care, follow-up regimens and treatment options.

Fricke TR, Jong M, Naidoo KS, et al. Global prevalence of visual impairment associated with myopic macular degeneration and temporal trends from 2000 through 2050: systematic review, meta-analysis and modeling. Br J Ophthalmol. April 26, 2018. [Epub ahead of print].