Petition for free myopia management for all UK children gains momentum

The petition, created by Myopia Focus, has passed 1000 signatures

child wearing glasses
Getty/Photo by Alex Tihonov

A petition urging the NHS to recognise myopia as an ocular disease and provide increased funding for its management has surpassed 1000 signatures.

The petition, created by Myopia Focus, is asking for myopia management to be made free for all UK children on the NHS. 

The NHS should “provide a new general ophthalmic services provision for children to pay a higher eye examination fee to take account of myopia screening and management,” the petition says.

It is calling for a schools-based myopia screening programme for four- and five-year-olds, a new tier of spectacle and contact lens vouchers for myopia management, free eye examinations for all myopes up to the age of 25 and for those with high myopia of any age, and for a large-scale public health campaign focused on long-term sight health.

The changes would help “avoid a two-tier system and take action to address this growing public health issue,” Myopia Focus said.

Currently, it is predicted that half of the world’s population could be myopic by 2050.

Myopia control can decrease the progression of nearsightedness by 50% in children, the petition notes.

It is asking for “a change in government and NHS policy to eye care for children and young people to ensure that all children are regularly screened for myopia.”

Jason Higginbotham
The petition also emphasises that “it is also imperative that children receive equal and free access to effective means of myopia management” and that “their future eyesight is at significant risk if nothing is done.”

Optometrist and managing editor of Myopia Focus, Jason Higginbotham, said: “Due to changes in lifestyle, an increasing number of people are at a higher risk of developing sight-threatening conditions linked to myopia. This should no longer be considered a potential threat; it is very real.”

Higginbotham continued: “We want to put pressure on ministers to do something about it now. The younger therapy commences, the less likely that your child will be at risk of sight loss in the future. We need the government to act.”

He added that optometrists are well-placed to offer advice and treatment to help slow the progression of myopia in children.

Members of the Myopia Focus Advisory Committee will be discussing the provision of myopia management in UK practice and the issues facing practitioners and their patients in a panel at 100% Optical this weekend (26 February).

The petition aims to increase public awareness of myopia and highlight the risks associated with the condition. It can be viewed here