A meteoric rise in myopia prevalence places it among the greatest eye health threats of the 21st century, precipitating calls for eye care providers to embrace promising management therapies outlined in new clinical guidance.
Because there is no safe level of myopia, and 25% of patients with an axial length of greater than 26mm will develop visual impairment by age 75, it behooves us to do our part to address this with all the best clinical tools available.
The doctors at Eyecare Associates of Lees Summit in 2020 began providing clinical information related to:
- Deciding when and how to treat myopia.
- Evaluating pre-myopia and myopia.
- Monitoring and efficacy.
- Personalizing myopia control therapies.
Laura Nennig, O.D., says the myopia management protocols offers doctors and parents the tools for myopia diagnosis and treatment options with their children. This includes the components of shared, clinical decision-making that result in best health outcomes.
“As primary eyecare doctors, we understand better than anyone in the health care arena the comprehensive range of health impacts that myopia has on our patients as we have been treating myopia from a primary care perspective for decades,” Dr. Nennig says. “Patients and their families continue to rely on us as the go-to eye doctors for the best available health guidance relative to eyes and vision as we are Lees Summits family eye doctors.”
Dr. Nennig adds, new clinical information and active treatment options are emerging from clinical research that can assist our doctors and our patients to make better-informed decisions about their long-term eye and vision health. We can help patients understand how to reduce the negative impacts of myopia as a chronic eye condition.
Myopia—the growing epidemic
Globally, it is estimated that myopia prevalence could reach as much as 52%—with cases of high myopia climbing to 10%—of the world population by 2050. This unprecedented spike in uncorrected myopia over the next several decades will exact not only a significant socio-economic toll to the tune of hundreds of billions of dollars but also a highly personal toll with the risk of sight-threatening disease increasing exponentially with severity of myopia.
Early diagnosis and treatment are crucial considering myopia progresses more quickly in younger children, and early onset implies more years of progression, the guide notes. That’s why emerging data showing myopia prevalence among children is causing urgency: by some estimates, 80% of young adults in urbanized East Asian countries are myopic.
In the U.S., myopia prevalence among young people isn’t quite as dramatic; however, studies indicate it’s still a problem. In fact, a 2018 study of children in Southern California estimated nearly 60% of 17- to 19-year-olds and nearly 50% of 11- to 13-year-olds were myopic. Combined with almost a year of pandemic lockdowns, U.S. children could be at an unprecedented crossroads when it comes to myopia.
“Due to school closures, almost 65% of households with children report the use of online learning and increased digital screen use, linked to near work,” Dr. Nennig said. “Compounded by the fact that social distancing measures have limited the time children spend outdoors, we know this crisis can have far-reaching eye health and vision implications on generations to come.