A recent growth in the focus on awareness and management of Myopia (shortsightedness) and a new emphasis and direction in terms of treatments evidenced in new studies and developments, seems to have resulted in a new approach to the ever-growing threat to the world provided by this multi-levelled refractive error. And to myopia expert and fellow of the International Academy of Orthokeratology and Myopia Control, Australian behavioural optometrist, Gary Rodney, this is the breakthrough the optical world and millions of myopics have been waiting for.
He welcomes both the annual international Myopia Awareness Week in May, and the World Council of Optometry (WCO) Board of Directors decision to approve a resolution which advises optometrists to incorporate a standard of care for myopia management in their practices. This includes three approaches aimed at advising parents and patients on risk factors in order to delay the onset of myopia; regular eye tests which, when possible, include measuring the myopia refractive error and axial length; as well as a management programme based on correcting and controlling myopia with an eye to patients’ future eye health and quality of life.
Getting Myopia and its Management Under Control
Rodney says he is hopeful that these and other similar programmes, together with a new generation of myopia treatments might stop the existing lack of consensus as to ways to treat and manage this so-far incurable vision problem, which has been increasing its prevalence at epidemic level year after year, and impacted on more and more people’s sight and lives.
“A considerable increase in awareness and consensus on treatment and management of this vision error could show some light at the end of its blurry tunnel. It’s just sad that reaching this point has taken almost as many years as it’s taken for myopia to increase from affecting a small and manageable number of children to a point at which it’s projected to affect every second person by 2050. And even sadder, is that we have still not found a cure for myopia,” Rodney says.
He said a recent global survey revealed that 82% of eye care professions expressed concern that their young patients would face the impact of serious eye health and myopia issues as they got older. But what was troubling to him, was that more than half of them laid the problem at the door of parents’ lack of awareness. Yet, according to another survey in Australia, many of them were themselves not taking advantage of the new methods of myopia treatment and control.
According to Rodney, more than half of the respondents said they were still using single vision distance glasses to treat child myopia, and providing new and stronger glasses each year as the myopia continued to progress, despite their being aware of newer approaches and treatments that were proving to be more successful.
And, at the same time, more and more eye specialists and scientists were agreeing that single vision glasses, the accepted method for treating myopia for many decades, do little more than clearing distance sight with a series of increasingly strong lenses, and may actually increase the progression of the vision error.
Why Myopia Management is So Important
He says that nearsightedness develops when either the cornea or the eye’s lens have an abnormal shape, or the eyeball is too long. This can cause the focus of messages carried into the eyes to be in front of the retina rather than on it, resulting in blurred distance vision. But many people are unaware that myopia is about far more than this.
Rodney says It has been linked to the world’s largest causes of vision loss, cataract, glaucoma, macular degeneration and retinal detachment, and according to its level of severeness, puts people with myopia at greater risk of getting them. With moderate myopia the risks of glaucoma double, cataract triples, retinal detachments are nine times greater, and macular degeneration ten times more likely. If myopia is allowed to progress to the high myopia level, the risks rise to three times higher for glaucoma, five times for cataract, and the chances of a detached retina increase by 21 times, while the risk of macular degeneration rises to 40 times more.
Moves Away from Standard Glasses for Myopics
While myopia treatments have mostly moved towards the use of specially-designed contact lenses of various types, including both multi-focus and single distance lenses, when it comes to Orthokeratology the contact lens is part of an overnight treatment programme. This contact lens is gas-permeable and temporarily reshapes the cornea, and if properly used on a nightly basis, has been shown to enable myopes to not have to wear glasses during the day.
Two new ideas have entered the myopia treatment sector recently, one of which is a is a single-day contact lens clinically proven to slow myopia progression when used early enough in the progression. The other, Rodney says, returns to the idea of ordinary single-vision glasses. However, this new pair of spectacles is not ordinary, instead using spectacle lenses which have either slightly or highly aspherical lenslets.
For more information on myopia and Smart Vision’s approach to myopia management, or to book an appointment, 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.