There’s no doubt that myopia management is one of the most widely discussed topics in eye care. We all know the staggering statistics about the number of kids currently impacted and the numbers looming just over the horizon.
Yet, with all of the myopia chatter, why do so many parents still ask, “Why haven’t I heard about this before? If myopia is the huge health crisis that you claim it is, and if you really can do something to help my kid, why don’t I already know this?”
Stepping out of our professional echo chamber, we can’t blame parents for these questions. If something (anything!) else was a serious threat to 30% of U.S. kids, it’d be known by every parent. What’s the reason for this gargantuan disconnect? Is the delay in the ongoing professional discussion of myopia and the public’s ignorance of it because it takes time to disseminate new information? Given the virality of anything on the Internet, it seems like that can’t be the case.
As a cofounder of a company dedicated to providing myopia management services to practitioners, and having performed consumer research, I can give you the reason—and the solutions—for this significant knowledge gap.
What You Say and How You Say It Matters
While practitioners claim that they’re talking to parents about myopia management, I can assure you that that’s not the case. I’m not saying that they are lying. More precisely, the issue lies in what they’re talking about and how they’re discussing it.
Practitioners often say, “I talk to all of my patients about X, and nearly all of them follow my recommendation.” However, industry sales numbers often don’t support those statements. X can be antireflective (AR) coatings on spectacle lenses or daily disposable contact lenses, among many others. As with myopia management, the discussions—when they actually do happen—are very similar. For example:
“You should think about getting daily disposable lenses.” Or, “These new AR lenses aren’t covered by your insurance, but they’re an option for your glasses.”
In both of the above examples, the practitioner certainly had a discussion. In both cases, it’s nearly 100% certain that neither patient got new contact or spectacle lenses.
The myopia management discussions are similar: “Mom, you should think about myopia management for your daughter because her prescription keeps changing.” Or, “We have special contact lenses to slow down her prescription, but they’re more expensive.”
Inherent in both “discussions” is a lack of confidence and a subliminal focus on the optical inconveniences of myopia rather than on the eye health consequences. Practitioners might eventually discuss concomitant eye diseases, but when leading off with “because the prescription changed,” an opportunity is lost.
With so many practitioners having these tepid—bordering on apathetic—discussions, it’s no wonder that parents leave unimpressed with myopia management and do not use the Internet’s power to spread the word.
What needs to happen is for practitioners to recognize that myopia is a serious disease—or to at least acknowledge that it’s serious. Talk about it with the same conviction as you would any other ocular condition. Don’t be wishy-washy in these discussions. When properly discussed, “Why haven’t I heard about this before” changes to “Let’s get treatment for my child started.” CLS