You may have noticed that children’s vision and myopia have been in the news a lot. The New York Times. CNBC. So many others. This is in part due to the concerns over changes in behavior during the pandemic. Not only have many children been E-learning, but even children who are at brick-and-mortar schools are using devices more and been outside less. Research shows this puts them at higher risk for developing myopia.
Just to be clear. "Nearsightedness" is the description we give where people can see up close but not far away. "Myopia" is the condition where the eye grows too long, causing nearsightedness and risk for eye diseases.
The Brien Holden Vision Institute, the preeminent organization for myopia research and education based in Australia, has established the Myopia Awareness Week from May 24 to 28. This global initiative will to bring attention to the growing epidemic of myopia in children across the world. This is an important topic because myopia is worsening around the world. It is estimated that by 2050, half of the population will be myopic.
Fortunately, there is good news. Evidence has shown that increased outdoor time decreases the risk for myopia. Recently the FDA approved MiSight 1-Day contact lenses for controlling myopia progression. Johnson & Johnson has very recently announced their FDA Abiliti orthokeratology brand. Essilor announced that the FDA has granted “Breakthrough Device” designation to its Essilor Stellest™ spectacle lens which are developed to correct myopia and slow down the progression of myopia in children. Additionally, off-label of multifocal contacts, orthokeratology, and atropine are all considerations for myopia control.
Summer is the best time to get students ready for the next school year. I see many children whose myopia has progressed a lot this year, and they are unaware of it. An eye exam is necessary to determine this. If you have questions about myopia management, simply call us at (813) 792-0637 or request an appointment.
One positive note: During the COVID-19 pandemic, I was honored to complete my Fellowship in the International Academy of Orthokeratology and Myopia Control. This makes me one of the few optometrists in the world with Fellowship in American Academy of Optometry, Academy, Orthokeratology and Myopia Control, and the College of Optometrists in Vision Development.