BHVI launches Myopia Awareness Week 2021

The global initiative aims to raise awareness of the growing issue of myopia in children

children drawing

Australian non-profit, the Brien Holden Vision Institute (BHVI), has relaunched Myopia Awareness Week, a global initiative to raise awareness of myopia.

The awareness week will run from today (24 May) to 28 May. The organisation will provide a range of educational resources for practitioners, parents and myopia awareness advocates

Yvette Waddell, BHVI CEO, said of the initiative: “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 futures.”

The organisation highlighted studies that predict global prevalence of myopia will rise form 28% of the world’s population, to 50% by 2050 (or five billion people). 

Professor Padmaja Sankaridurg, head of BHVI’s Myopia Program, said: “Vision impairment due to uncorrected myopia and myopia-related complication is on the rise and expected to increase further.”

“It has never been more important to spread the word and make sure parents and children are informed, so that they can make healthy vision decisions.” 

With the disruption and uncertainty of the pandemic, the awareness week was unable to go ahead last year.

Speaking to OT, Sankaridurg shared: “Fast forward to a year later, it appears that COVID-19 lockdowns have substantially affected eye health and may have further contributed to the myopia epidemic.”

“Researchers in China have found a substantial myopic shift as a result of home confinement for children aged six to eight. In Canada, a national health survey found that, during early 2020 COVID-19 lockdowns, on top of screen time needed for schoolwork, eight-year-olds were spending an average five plus hours a day on screens for leisure.

“And we already know the impact of screen time and reduced time outdoors has on the onset and progression of myopia,” she added.

The professor shared: “Given that the impact of COVID-19 is continuing at least for the near foreseeable future, it is more important than ever before to raise awareness of myopia.”

The focus is on encouraging eye care professionals to have “essential discussions” on the risks and prevention of myopia with patients and communities, Sankaridurg continued, and to ensure parents and children are seeing their optometrists to protect their eyes.

“While we can’t change genetics, we can impact the environment our eyes grow up in,” she continued, “With early detection and a management plan developed with an eye care professional – we can ensure that myopia is under control and vision doesn’t get worse.”