The short view

As the profession discovers ways to respond and alleviate the impact of myopia on the world’s sight, Henrietta Alderman explains how the AOP is equipping members for the future

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The myopia boom, as it has been called, has seen the continual rise of short-sightedness reaching epidemic proportions in some countries.

For example, according to Nature, in 2015, 60 years ago less than 10–20% of the Chinese population were short-sighted compared with 90% of Chinese teenagers today. Although myopia is most prevalent in China, the US and Europe are catching up with approximately half of young adults being myopic.

Researchers have been trying to understand the causes. Although genes play a part, they are not the whole story. The consensus is that children who spend too long indoors are at greater risk. Research is being undertaken at the Brien Holden Institute into spectacle lenses aimed at reducing the progression of myopia in younger children and there are already corneal reshaping contact lenses on the market.

Practitioners are beginning to embrace the opportunity to ‘treat’ myopia, rather than simply correct it, by modifying its progression through a range of management strategies; this is another example of where optometrists can expand their clinical remit alongside developing specialist skills in areas such as therapeutics.

"Given the growing number of practitioners qualifying or training in therapeutics, the AOP will be offering a new event in 2018, Therapeutics Manchester"

Tools at hand

Given the growing number of practitioners qualifying or training in therapeutics, the AOP will be building upon its successful specialist event, Therapeutics London, with a new event in 2018, Therapeutics Manchester, which will be held on Sunday 24 June.

The AOP also has significant resources in the form of member advice, for example juvenile myopia control and a substantial number of articles and archived and current CET to assist members in their practice. 

100% Optical is taking place as OT February lands, and there are sessions on myopia control for those at the event and during the year within our CET programme for those who are not.

Everything comes back to the importance of having a sight test. We promote the importance of sight testing is in almost every message we give, whether to the public, government or the media. We will be running more campaigns this year, but our Don’t Swerve a Sight Test campaign, in addition to promoting a change in the legislation made clear that a sight test every two years, or more often if recommended, was the best way to keep the nation’s sight healthy.

If you would like to get involved in our Voice of Optometry panel, which enables us to develop strong optometry-led campaigns, please respond to the email asking for your views when it comes – your views do make a difference.

Live and learn

Visit the AOP’s Events section for education and career development.