Myopia, commonly referred to as short-sightedness, is the focusing condition where vision is blurry at distance, clearer at near / ‘short’ distances. It is now considered to be a global epidemic.
The statistics for myopia are alarming and unless there is a shared vision across the various groups (researchers, clinicians, individuals, carers, community and governments) it is only going to get worse. The World Health Organisation estimates that myopia will significantly affect approximately 50% of the global population by 2050, largely due to modern urban lifestyles. While there may be little we can do to change our lifestyle, it may be possible to prevent or delay the onset of childhood myopia and slow its progression in those who are myopic.
It is clear that 21st century living, dominated by urbanisation, poses a challenge to the health of the young growing eye and is linked to the current worldwide epidemic of myopia. Limited time outdoors and an over-emphasis on educational pursuits and technological advances that result in excessive time on screen based devices are all factors that have contributed to rising levels of myopia.
High myopia is strongly linked to higher risk of cataract and retinal issues, such as retinal detachment and myopic macular degeneration. Increasing rates of vision impairment and blindness due to these retinal diseases are already evident in Asian countries.
Ultimately myopia control is about controlling the length of the growing eye. Some myopia progression is to be expected. The paediatric eye is expected to grow until about age 12-13, hence some axial elongation over this period can be attributed to normal growth and not myopia progression.
Improving time outdoors for children, especially young children of primary school age, may directly impact on the high prevalence of myopia.
There are a number of optical and pharmaceutical based treatments that can slow progression for children who present with myopia. Of the different interventions for myopia control, three have been found to have good efficacy: orthokeratology, myopia control design soft contact lenses, and atropine. We can expect around 50% efficacy from each of the three options.
Haydon Optometrists is very fortunate to have Janice Yeoman working as an optometrist in the practice. Janice returned to university to complete a Masters degree specialising in myopia control. She is able to use two years of study and research in this area for the benefit of the young myopic patients she sees.