Why is myopia a concern?
Myopia, more commonly known as short-sightedness, is now a global public health concern. In particular, the increasing prevalence of myopia in young children has since become an urgent issue to tackle among eye care professionals globally.
Raising public awareness about myopia
The predictions on the population are particularly worrying as this translates to a significant number of high myopes (-5.00D and above) having an increased risk of related vision-threatening conditions such as retinal detachment, myopic macular degeneration, and glaucoma, which eventually can lead to blindness.
Many parents see the onset of myopia as unavoidable and that it is a ‘normal process’ for children to develop myopia. It is inevitable that parents adopt such a mentality due to the lack of reports on myopia management, with the accompanying fact that there is a noticeable large number of young children that begin to wear spectacles even before they attend primary schools. The lack of a compelling need to intervene in myopia development can create risks in time to come as myopia is no longer just a simple refractive error.
|Family history||1 myopic parent||2 myopic parents|
|Myopia risk increase||2-3 times||5-6 times|
When a child develops myopia at 7 years old, the probability of the child progressing to high myopia is three times higher as compared to a child who has a myopia onset at 12 years old.
Studies have shown that one contributing factor to the development of myopia is having a family history with parental myopia. However, having reduced outdoor time with a high amount of time spent near work poses an even higher threat. This emphasizes the importance of education and awareness for all parents that preventing or delaying myopia onset is possible.
What is myopia management?
Myopia management means identifying the risk factors for myopia onset (even before a child develops myopia), prescribing corrections when needed, and providing information and advice to both parent and child.
There are ongoing studies with several promising approaches to control myopia onset and progression. These studies provide optimism that it is possible to reduce the number of people progressing to high myopia and thus, mitigating the risks associated with this condition. However, substantial support from the government and healthcare system is essential in order to generate enough public awareness to effectuate the motion.
Myopia management will require constant reviewing of measures and years of commitment. There is no one-size-fits-all solution but we need to weigh the risks involved if no intervention is being done at all.
Let us all fight the battle of myopia together!