Myopia: The future is now in your hands

In the next few decades the global prevalence of myopia is predicted to rise. OT  takes a look at the current product developments and actions optometrists can take to help reduce progression

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Over the past year OT  has been closely watching and reporting on the concerns expressed by eye care professionals (ECPs), academics and researchers about the rise in myopia in young children.

Earlier this year we spoke with Johnson & Johnson Vision’s Dr Noel Brennan who described myopia as the “biggest eye health threat of the 21st century.” We interviewed him about myopia recommendations, changing approaches and why practices should adopt myopia control, which you can revisit and read in full here.

One of the most staggering statistics recently highlighted by The Brien Holden Vision Institute (BHVI) predicts the global prevalence of myopia will rise from 28% of the world’s population to 50% by 2050 (or five billion people).

Studies and research are extremely important to quantify the magnitude of this potential epidemic and convey important messages to the optical community and the public, but it’s not all doom and gloom. There are actions and steps that can be taken now to help prevent the progression of myopia in young children.

Advancements in technology, research and products are making steadfast progress, and optometrists can make a difference and help future generations by providing management plans and raising awareness amongst parents and patients about their options.

This week marked the relaunch of Myopia Awareness Week (24–28 May) by the BHVI, supported by The World Optometry Council and Global Myopia Awareness Coalition (GMAC).

Raising awareness amongst ECPs and improving communication with patients and parents could be key to tackling this condition, as Yvette Waddell, BHVI CEO, commented on the launch of Myopia Awareness Week. “There is much happening in research, product development and professional education to meet the myopia challenge, but it is critical we engage with those at the frontlines – eye care practitioners – to ensure they have the understanding and tools to protect our children’s future,” she said.

Emphasising the importance of campaigning and communication, the GMAC board of directors’ chair, Dr Juan Carlos Aragón, said: “We are calling on eye care professionals to take action” and “learn about the most up-to-date management methods and communicate these methods to colleagues, other healthcare professionals, myopic children and their parents, and the wider consumer community.”

If you would like to find more about Myopia Awareness Week, you can find a variety of education tools and digital resources on the BHVI website.  

This month OT reported on a number of advancements and progress made in the development of products for myopia management. Recent research published in British Journal of Ophthalmology, found that Hoya spectacle lenses continues to be effective in managing myopia at three-year follow up.

Essilor was granted a breakthrough device designation from the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) for the Essilor Stellest lens, developed to correct and slow down the progression of myopia in children.

Johnson & Johnson Vision also received US FDA approval for its myopia management product, Acuvue Abiliti Overnight Therapeutic Lenses, in which the company said this is the “first and only” FDA approved orthokeratology (ortho-k) contact lens for myopia management.

And last month, we learned that CooperVision had acquired No7 Contact Lenses, enabling the company to expand access to contact lens designs and support the development of myopia management solutions.

Myopia management featured in an AOP education session at 100% Optical Online last week. Dr Manbir Nagra, optometrist, educator and researcher in myopia, contact lenses and health technologies, delivered an AOP session focused on the barriers to myopia management.

Discussing the importance of the topic, Nagra told OT “clinical care is rarely limited to clinical tasks such as refraction or fundus examination etc. Communication plays a central role. By appreciating the influences on our decision making and the views of parents, patients, and practitioners on myopia management, we can make better informed decisions.”

If you registered to attend 100% Optical Online but didn’t get the chance to watch this session and would like to learn more about the barriers to myopia management, you can watch it back by logging into your account.

Another event taking place in July this year, the Independents Day business symposium, will focus on ‘The Business of Myopia.’ Speaking to OT the event organiser, Nick Atkins, acknowledged that “considering myopia as a disease that can be treated and ensuring no child is left behind, is the biggest step change in how we practise since the inception of the NHS, not only from a clinical perspective, but from a business one too.”

Is myopia management something you would like to offer or are currently offering patients? OT would like to hear from optometrists about their experiences in the poll below.

OT  asks...

Do you offer myopia management in your practice?

  • Yes, I am in the process of implementing myopia management

    11 12%
  • Yes, I offer myopia management

    30 33%
  • No, I don’t have time or resources to implement

    4 4%
  • Not at the moment but I would like to in the future

    40 44%
  • No, not a priority at the moment

    1 1%
  • No, for other reasons not listed above

    3 3%