“Raising awareness about myopia with our patients is vital”

To mark Myopia Awareness Week (13–19 May), optometrist director of Specsavers Linlithgow, Diana Kelly, discusses the benefits that its myopia service provides its young patients, one year on from the multiple rolling out myopia management across its practice portfolio

teenage girl sight test
Getty/Dobrila Vignjevic

We are seeing a substantial increase in the prevalence of juvenile-onset myopia. Evidence indicates one reason for this is young people spending less time outdoors and more time indoors on screens. The forced confinement caused by the pandemic has seemingly exacerbated this issue, so raising awareness about myopia with our patients and discussing evidence-based management options is vital.

A national rollout

Myopia management was already firmly on our radar before Specsavers’ national rollout just over a year ago. As a team, we had closely reviewed the clinical research and colleagues undertook relevant training.

The huge benefit of the nationwide Specsavers rollout has been the improved awareness and access to treatment for patients. Being able to offer both ophthalmic lens and contact lens product options, such as the Hoya’s MiYOSMART and CooperVision’s MiSight, has been positive for our practice because we are now able to recommend the most suitable options for patients in our community.

In preparation for launch, our team undertook training created by Specsavers, whilst representatives from CooperVision also visited our practice to support the launch of MiSight contact lenses. It has helped us build a team who are confident when talking to patients, and their parents and carers, about their suite of options when it comes to myopia management.

The patient conversation

In terms of that conversation, it begins right at the outset when a child presents for an appointment – quite often their parents are existing patients and have been encouraged to bring their children in to monitor for signs of myopia. We provide education in the form of the patient leaflets and direct them towards the relevant evidence-based research, such as the Cochrane Review, which was updated in 2023.

Our support team are poised to take k-readings if they spot early signs of myopia when doing diagnostics, so that we can estimate and monitor axial length using the CooperVision calculator.

During the appointment, we will have an in-depth discussion about the patient’s hobbies and lifestyle to identify potential risk factors such as increased “near work” activities or family history. It is important to make both the child and parent aware, in a sensitive way, of how myopia can impact them. It is not just blurred distance vision and dependence on a refractive correction, but also that there is a higher risk for ocular pathology in later life with every additional dioptre.

Parents who are myopic themselves tend to be more concerned and motivated to learn more about how the progression of myopia can be reduced.

Usually, the family will take some time to read the literature and ask questions. We will promote holistic advice such as a healthy balance of near vision activities and more time spent outdoors. At the end of the appointment, we will hand-over to one of our dispensing opticians who can offer additional support and advice should myopia management be indicated. Gaining explicit informed consent prior to commencing treatment is vital and we record this on our digital patient file.

Patients with myopia management glasses or contact lenses generally adapt to them very quickly. We review them after two weeks and again at six months to check for adaptation, vision issues and to make any required adjustments.

Several of our colleagues’ children are benefiting from myopia management. I would have no hesitation in introducing it for my own daughter if/when she needs it, which is surely inevitable with a myopic mother and too much TikTok.

Myopia management must remain in the forefront of our minds. We owe it to our patients to continually develop our skills and knowledge in this quickly evolving field.

About the author

Diana Kelly is an optometrist and the optometrist director of Specsavers in Linlithgow.