Optometry congress sheds light on childhood myopia

The prevalence of myopia is increasing at an alarming rate. As of today, more than two billion individuals are diagnosed with myopia. By 2050, five billion or half the world will be affected by myopia and nearly one billion will suffer from high myopia. 

Optometry congress sheds light  on childhood myopia
Medical experts strongly advise parents to encourage their children to minimize near-distance work and spend more time outdoors to prevent myopia or nearsightedness. 
The recent 22nd Asia Pacific Optometry Congress held in Manila has brought together 28 renowned speakers from over 22 countries to explore the latest advances in optometry and discuss the prevalence and management of myopia. 

Myopia, also called nearsightedness or shortsightedness, is a vision condition in which people find it difficult to see distant objects clearly. High myopia (-5.0D or more) is associated with a higher risk of serious eye conditions such as glaucoma, cataract, retinal detachment, and myopic macular degeneration—which can even lead to vision impairment or blindness later in life. 

However, when detected early, myopia can be managed with the right solutions, substantially reducing these risks.

A major cause for concern is that more children are getting myopia at younger ages than before, particularly in Asia, where studies suggest rapid increases in the prevalence of childhood myopia, affecting 80 to 90 percent of young people in some major cities.

In the Philippines, myopia prevalence (-0.50D or more) has been steadily increasing each decade, with nearly 40 percent of the overall population currently being myopic, predicted to increase to nearly 50 percent by 2030 and 60 percent by 2050.

Despite the magnitude of this challenge, the science of myopia is still young and awareness of the long-term adverse effects of myopia is low. 

A recent Essilor survey has shown that only five to six percent of parents in the United States and China are aware of any form of solutions to manage myopia. This growing prevalence among children has been associated with factors such as increased near-work activities and less outdoor time, which are consequences of rising educational pressures and urbanization. 

The Department of Health has issued an alarm on the rising number of children in developed cities like Metro Manila and Cebu who are suffering from myopia, mostly rooted from their constant use of electronic gadgets. 

Essilor also emphasized the important role that parents play in ensuring the vision health of their children. To delay onset of myopia, children should be encouraged to minimize near distance work and spend more time outdoors. Taking regular vision or outdoor activity breaks during near-work can help. 

Optometry congress sheds light  on childhood myopia
Dr. John Ang and Dr. Emelita Roleda at the 22nd Asia Pacific Optometry Congress in Manila. 
With regard to the usage of various electronic devices, the ophthalmic optics company said it’s not the digital devices as such, but the fact that digital devices are used at shorter distances than books, as near-work has been shown to be a significant risk factor for developing myopia. Children should be encouraged to maintain an optimal reading distance from the screen, which is the distance between the elbow and the fingers. 

Regular eye examinations are key to early detection of myopia in children. The sooner a child’s myopia gets detected, the earlier the child will gain access to myopia management solutions and proper eye care. 

To detect and manage myopia in children, it is critical for parents to know that regular eye exams by an optometrist are as important as basic health screening. It is important for children to have regular eye checks, once every six months. Even if a child has been screened for myopia in school, it’s a good idea to take them for an eye check if they are squinting, having headaches or complaining of blurred vision.

 “Together, we need to adopt a comprehensive approach to improve accessibility, drive research and innovative product development, educate eye care practitioners, build coalitions and partnerships, initiate early intervention programmes at schools and effect policy change,” said Kovin Naidoo, senior vice president for inclusive business at Essilor.

According to research, a number of different solutions could help in slowing down the progression of myopia in children. Myopilux, a range of ophthalmic lenses developed by Essilor, is designed to both correct myopia and help slow down its progression in myopic children. This non-invasive solution has successfully helped more than one million myopic children in Asia over the last eight years. 

Myopilux Max lenses have slowed down myopia progression by up to 51 percent compared to other regular single vision lenses. In the Philippines, Essilor has engaged all optical clinics nationwide to provide information on myopia management and Myopilux.

Topics: Myopia , Essilor , Department of Health , Eyes , 22nd Asia Pacific Optometry Congress
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