Being told your child has an eye problem like myopia (shortsightedness) can come as a shock to both the child and the parents, and knowing it’s becoming very common is cold comfort according to Gary Rodney, a fellow of the International Academy of Orthokeratology and Myopia Control (FIAOMC).
But Rodney, the founder of Smart Vision Optometry, said that what is comforting, is that effective treatments for controlling the progression of this refractive disorder are already available. Ongoing campaigns are being run in many countries, including Australia and the US, to increase awareness of Myopia and to look for new solutions to cut it’s progression and its prevalence, which has currently reached epidemic levels.
The refractive eye impairment is the result of the cornea or lens having an abnormal shape or the eyeball being longer from front to back and the light rays which convey messages about what’s seen to the eyes fall in front of the retina instead of on it. Rodney says that why this happens is still not certain, but links to genetics and lifestyles such as too little exposure to natural light, and too much time spent on close work or screen viewing have been made.
Drop in Myopia for First Time in 10 years
In Taiwan the latest statistics show a drop in myopia among elementary schoolchildren for the first time in the past 10 years. This follows their Health Promotion Administration introducing its “Vision Protection 123” campaign based on vision protection, more time outdoors, and increased access to natural light. Recent data showed the numbers decreasing for the first time in decades, dropping by 5% from a prevalence of close on 50% to just over 44%. This is also a first for Asia, where statistics have continued to swing higher into and beyond the 80 and 90 percentile in many areas.
Heading Towards Myopia Affecting One Out of Two by 2050
The number of children and adults dealing with its consequences globally has been growing exponentially since the 1970’s. And in the past decade has reached a point where its current epidemic speed suggests that by 2050 every second person in the world may only see objects that are close clearly, and those at a distance as a blur. Unfortunately, Rodney said a proportion of them will go on to age-related blindness due to the eyeball stretching.
“We now know that for every dioptre of increased myopia there is an exponential increase in the risk of age-related blindness,” he said. “Lower levels do not necessarily reduce the likelihood of serious vision problems completely, nor does it indicate that the levels won’t change with progression.”
Rodney says that is why it is so important to check children’s eyes regularly, with a practitioner aware of myopia treatment options, and to continue doing so if there were any signs that the myopia is progressing quickly and likely to enter the high or pathological myopia level of -6.00 diopters or more.
Rodney said many options are available wen it comes to managing Myopia, and ways to control progression, including the special night-time gas-permeable contact lenses which are used in Orthokeratology. These lenses temporarily reshape the cornea to lesson the refractive errors which confuse vision, and can be used both as primary therapy and a way to slow the progression.
For more information visit the Smart Vision website: Optometrists Sydney: Optometry Services For Children and Adults | Smart Vision; for specific information about Myopia treatment and prevention visit Myopia Prevention: Solutions, Control And Treatment In Sydney; and for detailed information about Myopia Treatment visit Orthokeratology In Sydney: The Non Surgical Alternative.
To book an appointment for a thorough eye check-up, click here or Call the Bondi clinic on (02) 9365 5047 or the Mosman clinic on (02) 9969 1600.