Myopia Management: The Alarming Rise in Global Prevalence

Dr. Russel Lazarus, June 16, 2021

The National Health and Nutrition Survey data shows that the prevalence of myopia worldwide has nearly doubled from 25% in 1972 to 42% in 2002.

The prevalence of myopia has alarmingly increased over the years, don’t let your child be one of the statistics.

A systematic review and meta-analysis recently published in Ophthalmology (May 2016) estimated that myopia will affect nearly 5 billion people worldwide by 2050.

Myopia’s global pandemic

There have been multiple studies that prove beyond a doubt that myopia is becoming a global pandemic.

  • Archives of Ophthalmology (December 2009), found that the prevalence of myopia was 66.4% higher among participants (aged 12 to 54 years) in the 1999-2004 National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey (NHANES) than in the 1971-1972 NHANES.
  • Journal of Clinical Ophthalmology (Vol 14, April 2020) found that the prevalence of myopia among secondary school children was 14.2% and tended to increase with grade, from 10.5% in grade six to 17.7% in grade nine.

What is myopia?

Myopia, also known as nearsightedness, occurs when the eye elongates, and light rays are focused in front of the light-sensitive retina rather than directly on it.

For those with myopia, nearby objects remain clear which distant objects appear blurred. Although glasses and standard contact lenses can correct a person’s vision, they don’t treat the underlying cause of myopia or slow its progression.

Myopia progression refers to the increase in a child’s prescription. When the increase occurs rapidly, such as over the course of a single year, eye doctors recommend this deterioration be further examined and treated.

If you are concerned about your child’s myopia, contact an eye doctor near you who can help diagnose and manage your child’s myopia.

SEE RELATED: Myopia Management: The Optical Strategy

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Myopia has serious eye health consequences

The more myopic prevalence increases, the more the percentage of patients end up with high myopia. It’s those with high myopia that are most likely to develop ocular comorbidities or significant ocular problems in adulthood.

Higher degrees of myopia are associated with an increased rate of serious sight-threatening eye conditions, including;

  • Pathological myopia
  • Glaucoma
  • Macular degeneration
  • Retinal detachment
  • Myopic choroidal neovascularization
  • Myopic retinoschisis

Myopia is also responsible for early-onset cataracts, strabismus (eye turn) and amblyopia (lazy eye).

Pathological Myopia

Investigative Ophthalmology and Visual Science (IOVS, Feb 2019) published research showing that 25% of people with high myopia will develop pathological myopia (PM) and 50% of those with PM will have low vision as older adults.

PM is an extremely high degree of myopia that causes the eye to change shape. In this condition, the macula is usually damaged, resulting in dramatic loss of central vision loss, resulting in low vision.

If you think your child may have myopia, schedule an appointment with an eye doctor near you who can discuss myopia management with you.

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What is myopia management?

The optimum way to slow down, or even stop altogether, the progression of myopia is through a process known as Myopia Management.

Myopia management is provided by specific eye doctors and uses a range of treatments to manage the child’s myopia and stop it from worsening.

Myopia management includes many options, including contact lenses worn overnight (Ortho-K), atropine eye drops, and specialized multifocal design contact lenses and optical lenses.

Myopia management has shown to reduce myopia progression by up to 78 percent.

Who can benefit from myopia management?

All children with worsening myopia can benefit from myopia management.

The ideal time for a child to begin a myopia management program is typically between 8 to 12 years of age.

Even if your child presents with low levels of myopia, controlling myopia progression before it worsens can be very effective.

While myopia can still be controlled throughout the teenage years, the earlier a child begins a myopia management program, the greater their chances for reducing the risk of sight-threatening eye diseases in the future.

Due to the global increase of myopia, it’s possible that your child may have myopia. Talking to your eye doctor on how to prevent your child from becoming part of the statistic.

LEARN MORE:  Guide to Myopia Management

If your child complains of blurry vision or has already been diagnosed with myopia, schedule an eye exam with an eye doctor near you who has experience in myopia management.