100% Optical

Q&A: Jason Higginbotham

The optometrist sat down with OT  at 100% Optical to speak about increasing awareness of myopia management

SP myopia focus
Pixabay/Luisella Planeta

Myopia Focus is a website that gives members of the public information about myopia management.

Optometrist Jason Higginbotham sat down with OT to discuss the new resource – as well as his guidance around offering myopia management in practice.

What is Myopia Focus?

Myopia Focus is a parent and patient-centred website designed to inform and educate people about the existence of myopia as more than just a refractive error. The website also raises awareness of the risks that exist once you have myopia – in particular high myopia. Myopia Focus aims to inform and educate, not to scare. It is not sponsored – it is device and therapeutic agnostic. We really try to give impartial advice to parents.

What would you say to optometrists about becoming involved in myopia management?

The first thing is that you can do it now – you have everything you need. You don’t have to be the most advanced optometrist to do myopia management. The College of Optometrists guidance specifically states that you have got to educate yourself about this topic. There are courses you can do at the universities as well as online courses and the Myopia Profile website.

If you aren’t willing or able to provide myopia management, make it clear that you have given the advice on the record and they may need to go somewhere else to receive that management. Paperwork is important.

How much public awareness is there around myopia management?

There is limited awareness of the topic among the general public. We did a small survey through Myopia Focus where we found that around 75% of people had heard of short sightedness. Only a tiny portion had heard of myopia and 4% had heard of myopia management. You absolutely need to work hard at informing your patient base and those who aren’t currently your patients of the existence of myopia beyond short-sightedness.

Would you have any tips for communicating about myopia management in practice?

Start with lifestyle questions. You may ask how many hours they spend outside, how much time they spend on a smartphone or doing homework. Ask them what activities they do – if they play sport.

Often you will be asked why those questions are coming up. Then that leads perfectly into the explanation. If they don’t, you can say ‘The reason why I am asking you is because…’ It is a nice conversational bridge into all of the facts about myopia.

Ultimately, every child who comes through the door is potentially at risk of myopia – you have to then screen for it. It is good to have leaflets in practices and send out information with recalls. Ask patients to fill out questionnaires before they visit the practice or while they are in the waiting room. It paints a picture of the potential risks that they face. You are immediately in a position, before you have spent any chair time, to understand potential management options.