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Myopia: A Ticking Timebomb

Updated: Jul 4, 2023

Kid playing with coloured pens

Optometrists examine and prescribe for myopic patients every day. Dispensing opticians provide optical appliances for those patients every day. But how much do we really know about myopia?

During a recent Optometric conference, Ian Filtcroft, consultant ophthalmologist at the Temple Street Hospital, Dublin, stated that: “This current generation will be the most myopic ever.” He went on to say that: “In 2000 1.4 billion people were myopic, but by 2050 we expect that to be four billion.” Around the globe, a myopia epidemic appears to be developing with a seemingly ever increasing number of the world’s population affected. We do not know why, or how. However, the most worrying consequence of an increase in the number of myopic patients is myopic visual impairment, where diseases such as glaucoma, retinal detachment and myopic degeneration sight loss despite optical correction.

Near-work activities, such as reading, writing, computer use, and playing video games, have been implicated as possible causes of the significant increase in the prevalence of myopia. However, some studies have reported a weak or absent association between a heavier load of near work and the prevalence or incidence of myopia. Outdoor activity has aroused much interest, although it is still not clear whether outdoor activity can help prevent the onset and progression of myopia.

Children as young as three or four can be affected and their chances of being short-sighted are significantly increased if either parent has myopia. If we can spot the signs early we can help prevent more serious issues further down the line. It is important that all children have a sight test at an early age, preferable before they start school in reception year. We’ve identified three things you can do NOW to help your child’s sight stay stronger, for longer.

1. Put the devices down

Data shows that increases in myopia are mainly lifestyle driven. Young people spend a lot of time on near tasks such as reading and writing and electronic devices such as iPads, phones and games consoles. Strike the right balance and limit use of screens where you can.

2. Outdoor play

Children spend a lot of time in enclosed spaces such as classrooms and sitting indoors on their phones! It’s important they don’t miss out on Vitamin D which may play a potential role in eye growth. Myopia progression may be caused by light levels and old-fashioned outdoor play could be the answer. Early studies are showing that increased time outside could slow the onset of myopia by up to 34%.

3. Ask us about myopia management

While spectacles and contact lenses can correct the condition, until now, they have been unable to slow its rate of progression. Innovative spectacle lenses which are designed to blur the peripheral image formed on the retinal of the eye while maintaining a clear central will be available early in 2021. We are very pleased to be involved with trials of the MiYOSMART lens which was developed by HOYA Vision Care in partnership with Hong Kong Polytechnic University. MiYOSMART utilises Defocus Incorporated Multiple Segments (D.I.M.S) technology to manipulate the peripheral retinal image in order to slow the rate of myopic progression. The results of a 2-year clinical trial of this lens showed that myopia progression was slowed by 59%. Keep checking our website for further information about the availability of this lens.


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