Embracing myopia management

OT  speaks to Elizabeth Lumb and Professor Ed Mallen about the importance of managing myopia

Elizabeth Lumb and Professor Ed Mallen

If current myopia trends continue, around 50% of the global population will be affected by the condition by 2050, delegates at 100% Optical (ExCeL Exhbition Centre, 4–6 February) heard.

Tackling the topic of myopia during two CET-accredited lectures earlier this month, the University of Bradford’s head of optometry and vision science, Professor Ed Mallen, spoke about the latest research into myopia control, while CooperVision’s European professional services manager, Elizabeth Lumb, explored myopia intervention strategies that practitioners can implement to limit progression of myopia.

Speaking exclusively to OT following his talk, Professor Mallen explained: “We don’t really know why myopia is increasing in prevalence, but if we look to East Asia, there is a huge problem – an estimated 19 out of 20 people in some cities are myopic to a significant degree.”

He added: “I hope that in the Western world we won’t reach the same epidemic level that we see in East Asia. However, if we look at some key studies from the 1980s and compare them to studies now, we have definitely seen an increase in prevalence and if that continues, we could have a problem.

Highlighting why myopia’s increased prevalence is a cause for concern, Ms Lumb told OT: “We are talking about large volumes of the population having a myopic prescription, which will undoubtedly cause stress, strain and extra burden on any health care system.”

Managing myopia

Explaining what optometrists can do to try to help control and halt myopia progression, Ms Lumb shared her three-step plan for managing myopia in practice.

A key first step is assessing the risk by looking at family history, as well as refractive status and how quickly that is changing, Ms Lumb said. “Even if a young child is a plus prescription, if that prescription is changing rapidly, that should raise a red flag towards a myopic prediction,” she added.  

Drawing on the positive, Ms Lumb told OT: “What’s exciting about myopia control as a practitioner, is being able offer an intervention to help halt or reduce the progression of myopia with optical treatments. This can range from spectacles, which can offer a moderate reduction, through to contact lenses, which can really make a difference to how that child progresses.”

Ms Lumb acknowledged that managing myopia in practice may not be easy, saying: “If you get a knock back when discussing myopia management it’s important that we persevere with the parents of patients as the outcomes could be significant for everyone involved.