Turning the tide (C-100417)

8 May 2019
Spring 2019

With the global prevalence of myopia predicted to reach 50% and rates in the UK rising, should optometrists be embracing myopia management techniques? Madeleine Bailey reports.

Domains covered

Communication Clinical practice

Estimates suggest that almost one-third of the UK population is now short-sighted, with twice as many 10- to 16-year-olds affected as 50 years ago (McCullough, 2016). While estimates are similar throughout Europe and the US, in a number of south-east Asian countries, where more reliable population data is available, 70% of the population are now myopic (Pan et al, 2012), with an incredible 96% of 19-year-old South Korean men affected (Jung et al, 2012). Much research into myopia has been undertaken here and, in its consensus statement published in March, the College noted the need for more research into children of European and other ancestries.

Should this surge in myopia continue, half the world’s population will be myopic by 2050 (Holden et al, 2015). This is bad news for health: one billion people will be high myopes, at greatly increased risk of sight-threatening diseases such as glaucoma, retinal detachment and maculopathy (Flitcroft, 2012). This will bring with it an economic burden, both for individuals and public health budgets.

The College’s consensus statement on childhood and adult myopia management follows a roundtable discussion with clinicians, researchers and eye health organisations to consider the current evidence (see The College consensus statement, right). It recognises the evidence gaps, notes that it is not possible to identify which children would benefit most from interventions, and pledges to develop new professional guidance.

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