Myopia control is creating a big buzz in the world currently. Myopia is another word for nearsightedness, and the incidence of nearsightedness has suddenly leaped up across the world. When I entered optometry school in 1995, the percentage of myopia in the population was approximately 30%, while it is now 40% and predicted to affect 50% of the population by the year 2050! That means 5 billion people in the world will have some form of myopia.
The World Health Organization has indicated that this in now an epidemic and needs to be studied and controlled. Thereby “myopia control” is the new buzz.
Before we go into why this is such a concern, it is important to appreciate what myopia is. Having myopia indicates that you can see things which are nearby, but are unable to see clearly at distance.
To treat myopia, Dr. Fink will prescribe a minus lens in order to diverge the light so it can hit the macula (central viewing portion of the retina). Although many studies and much research has been conducted in myopia, the actual process is not fully understood. Some believe too much close-work creates it. Some studies indicate that elongation of the eyeball creates it. Maybe it’s genetic. There has been no one proven mode of action to explain myopia or it’s progression.
So why do we care? Why do we care if the prescription is a -1.00 vs a -12.00? Well, the higher the prescription, the higher the risk of retinal disease and glaucoma. Once the eye exceeds the power of -3.50, the risks go up significantly. This is why everyone, including the WHO, is interested in “controlling” it, as the cost in not only treating these additional diseases is a concern but also the impact these conditions have on the individual, their quality of life, and on the entire economic structure, as these individuals will no longer be able to continue in their employment. There are also costs to employers that need to modify the work space and the costs to healthcare, as not only the surgeries and treatment cost money but also low vision services if vision cannot be rescued. The impact that myopia has is frightening and unless you are aware of the dangers an increase in power can create, you may not be invested in also doing everything possible to slow down the development of myopia.
Stay tuned for more in this series. For more information on myopia control, call us at 905-319-1066.