A lot has changed during the Covid-19 lockdown. And Australian Optometrist Gary Rodney (Master of Optometry) is concerned that while dealing with the aftermath, parents may overlook the impact the lockdown may have had on their children’s eyesight. Rodney, a fellow of the International Academy of Orthokeratology and Myopia Control (FIAOMC) and founder of Smart Vision Optometry, says that to avoid the possible and potentially serious consequences of this oversight, parents should be sure to have their children’s eyes checked as they head back to school.
Rodney says he understands how easy it would be to overlook eye care as the lockdowns slowly lift in the wake of the rampaging pandemic. Dealing with the back-to-school process, and adapting to work routines all over again, is challenging at the best of times. Doing so against a backdrop of constant talk about an undefined “new normal” that might change their world forever, while still stressed by the virus and lockdown regulations, will not make it any easier.
From Lockdown Stress to Myopia Epidemic
However, according to Rodney, it is vital that parents are aware that they could unknowingly be sending their children from a new pandemic straight into an epidemic, one that has seen myopia affecting the eyesight of millions of people around the globe in the past few decades and which is showing no signs of slowing down any time soon.
Testing children for the eye condition, or making sure they resume treatment if it’s been interrupted during lockdown, is especially important because of the increased screen time and restricted outdoor activity the lockdown lifestyle encouraged. Rodney says these two actions have been linked to a marked increase in the prevalence of myopia, and to speeding up the condition’s rate of progression. Further he says “We are seeing a significant increase in our clinics in eyestrain and impacted functional vision skills just from three to four weeks of Lockdown screen usage at home”
Myopia, also known as nearsightedness, is a refractive eye condition which affects distance focus, blurring anything that’s more than a few feet away. Progressive myopia is where the eyeball continues to elongate and stretch. This causes irreversible damage to the back of the eye as the retina is stretched. This can become a serious eye impairment which can lead to blindness later in life. Rodney says traditionally the majority of optometrists and ophthalmologists simply prescribe single focus distance glasses and contact lenses as has been done for years which is the worst thing you can do as far as myopia prevention is concerned.
However Rodney says there are now evidence based options to control the progression and prevent the eyes from being harmed further. Everyone should educate themselves as to what is possible and what is this myopia epidemic.
He says that perhaps, as Australians return to work in a way still governed in their minds by the “old” normal while at the same time trying to come to grips with the concept of the “new” normal, they will get a bit more insight into what it means to be myopic and how huge the problem is becoming in our modern device driven world. Surrounded by a blur of changing figures and regulations, as well as inundated with endless true and fake news and information, they will find it difficult to get a clear picture of what the future may hold. And this, in turn, will make it impossible to perceive what that picture will mean to them and how they will fit into it.
For more information on myopia, its treatment and management, visit https://www.myopiaprevention.com.au
Click here to book an appointment online or call either of Smart Vision’s two Sydney clinics at (02) 9365 5047 (Bondi), or on (02) 9969 1600 (Mosman).