Myopia is on the rise | Central Western Daily

PREVENTION: There are a number of things you can do to try and reduce the risk of developing myopia. Photo: Supplied

Despite widespread media coverage, COVID-19 is not only the pandemic the world is facing. Myopia, or short-sightedness, is on the rapid rise.

As far back as 2015, the World Health Organization described it as a ‘myopia pandemic’ and predicted that by 2050 half of the world’s population, or 5 billion people, will be myopic.

Myopia is when glasses or contact lenses are required in order to see clearly at a distance. The onset is usually during puberty, and it typically progresses through to the early 20s.

A high degree of myopia significantly increases the risk of permanent vision loss due to conditions such as retinal detachment, macular degeneration and glaucoma.

Today, optometrists are seeing an increasing amount of children developing myopia at a much younger age. Unfortunately, the earlier the onset, the worse the myopia will be in adulthood.

GET YOUR EYES TESTED: Myopia, or short-sightedness, is on the rapid rise.  Photo: Supplied

GET YOUR EYES TESTED: Myopia, or short-sightedness, is on the rapid rise. Photo: Supplied

There are a number of things you can do to try and reduce the risk of developing myopia, however the top three are.

  1. Limit screen time. Children who use screens for more than three hours each day are four times more likely to be myopic compared to those spending one hour each day. The Australian Federal Health guidelines recommend less than two hours each day of recreational screen time for children aged 5-17 years old.
  2. Increase outdoor time. Spending 90 minutes a day outdoors, preferably active, is also a proven way to reduce the onset of myopia.
  3. Get your eyes tested. A problem with the eyes focusing system or how the eyes work together, can significantly increase the chances of developing myopia. Often eye exercises or a pair of glasses for concentrated tasks can make the difference.

If you or your child are already myopic there are now a number of ways to control the progression to limit the degree of myopia.

These include formula eye drops, myopia controlling spectacles and specialty contact lenses including orthokeratology.

Orthokeratology is when a contact lens is worn overnight reshaping the eye’s surface. During the day, there is no need for spectacles or contact lenses, and the progression of myopia is significantly slowed.

These recent technologies have changed the way myopia is approached, and it is hopeful that like COVID-19, damage cause by the myopia pandemic can be limited.

Leave a Comment