In five years’ time: “I would love to think that every clinician will be confident to offer myopia management”
OT speaks to CooperVision’s professional affairs lead for myopia management in the UK and Ireland, Nicky Latham
06 May 2023
In January, optometrist Nicky Latham was appointed professional affairs lead for myopia management in the UK and Ireland at CooperVision. Joining with almost a decade of experience working across clinical governance, policy and professional services at Boots Opticians, Latham’s role at CooperVision is built around a remit of working with eye care practitioners (ECPs), businesses and professional associations to highlight the importance of myopia management and help build plans that support practitioners in having conversations with patients about myopia.
She will lead on the development of the contact lens manufacturer’s strategy across its myopia management team to work with customers to enable clinicians to get involved in myopia management. Here she shares insight into her new role and her experiences with myopia management with OT.
Why is it important for optometrists to be aware of the myopia management options available and feel able to communicate with patients and their parents about it?
In your new role at CooperVision, what are your objectives for the first 12 months, and beyond?
We are in a great position with myopia management in the UK, having had new guidance from the College of Optometrists last year and, of course, the recently updated AOP advice to members making it clear that a conversation about myopia management is the minimum expectation. Coming into role, my ambition is to ensure that ECPs are aware of their responsibilities and raise the profile of the guidance.
I’m also keen to work with professional organisations to understand more about the impact of myopia on current and future populations and help bring myopia management to as many children as possible through their ECPs.
Furthermore, I aim to bring myopia management into the mainstream business rather than it being separate. This would mean that all our colleagues out in the field have the knowledge and confidence to discuss myopia management when they are out in store and help clinicians on the next step of their myopia journey. There are still many clinicians who have not started myopia management and I want to help them understand how easy it is to fit MiSight; there is no need for complicated fitting guides or specialist equipment. Although being able to measure axial length is gold standard, I think it is fair to say that most clinicians who are doing myopia management have started without a biometer and have purchased one once they are regularly fitting. We can all refract, with a cycloplegic refraction if required and we can all take K readings so I want to encourage optometrists to get involved.
From May to July, CooperVision will drive engagement on myopia with ECPs. What is the aim of this drive and why is it important?
This is part of the strategy towards everyone in CooperVision being able to talk about myopia management, helping to break down the barriers that are preventing practitioners getting involved and supporting ECPs with the next step on their myopia journey. July and August are key times for children to be attending practice to have their eyes tested prior to the start of the new school year. We want to highlight to all practices that this is the moment to identify those children for whom myopia management is appropriate and get them fitted with either glasses or contact lenses. This is a particularly good time to be fitted with contact lenses as they are able to use the extra time they have during the holidays to get used to application and removal so it is easy once they are back to school.
My first myopia management memory
Currently, what do you think ECPs perceive the main barrier to be regarding offering myopia management, and how do they overcome this?
The first is cost: many practitioners cite cost as a barrier. And while cost may be a barrier for some parents, it is absolutely not a barrier to the conversation. All parents deserve to know what myopia management is and the potential benefits to their child, and what options may be more suitable. It is then up to them whether they choose to pay for it. There will be some parents who could afford it who choose not to, but there are also some parents who cannot really afford it who find the money from somewhere. There may also be ways to help parents pay for treatment through Direct Debits or split payment plans. The other thing is not to be put off by a refusal to take up myopia management. The parent may choose not to take up myopia management this time but may do so in the future so keep having those conversations.
The second barrier is time: Time can be tight in a busy clinic, but this again is no reason not to have the conversation. Ways to help with time are: ensuring your support staff can introduce the idea of myopia management; keeping the messaging simple and have leaflets or internet links available to provide the parents with additional information; where possible have a dispensing optician in the store to work as a team to offer the best solution for each child, ensuring that they can have a conversation about the contact lens options as well as spectacle lenses; and where you have a contact lens optician in store, ensure you are getting the appropriate children in their chair and discuss the consistent messaging that you want to convey.
All parents deserve to know what myopia management is and the potential benefits to their child, and what options may be more suitable
What are your three one sentence tips for offering myopia management in practice?
- Identify your pre-myopes and talk to them about lifestyle changes and also introduce the idea of myopia management should they need it
- Ensure every myopic child and their family know what myopia management options are available to them so that they can make an informed choice
- Ensure all your team in practice know about myopia management and can introduce the idea to prospective families.
In five years’ time, what do you hope the myopia landscape looks like in UK practice?
I would love to think that every clinician will be confident to offer myopia management, that every practice has a number of myopia management products in their range, and that all children and their parents leave their appointment as least knowing about the risks of myopia and how it can be treated both from a lifestyle perspective and a product perspective.
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