In the world of myopia management, an exciting array of new product innovations, industry joint ventures, and clinical trial outcomes were announced in 2021. The treatment options for slowing the typical progression of childhood myopia are growing in evidence and accessibility. As a clinician, why should you get started in myopia management?
Three Great Reasons
- Myopia Is Booming Childhood myopia incidence is increasing worldwide (Holden et al, 2016), and the recent shift in school environment has resulted in evidence of this “myopia boom” growing larger (Wang et al, 2021). There is more than enough evidence that fitting progressing myopic children with single-vision spectacle corrections is no longer best-practice clinical management and that multiple strategies can slow progression (Brennan et al, 2021). The past decade has seen an explosion of new spectacle, soft lens, and pharmaceutical technologies for myopia management that have similar efficacy to the original option—orthokeratology—but with arguably easier fitting and accessibility characteristics.Parents are also increasing their awareness and asking for better options than just stronger glasses every few months for their myopic children. Being reticent to myopia control now could bring tough questions from parents in the future.
- Short-Term Benefits of Myopia Control An 8-year-old child in a single-vision correction can progress about 1.00D in one year (Donovan et al, 2012). If that child goes one year between eye exams, he or she could potentially spend half of that time with clear distance vision and half with blur due to progression. With myopia management, the 8-year-old spends minimal or even no time suffering blurred vision between exams, especially if the International Myopia Institute (IMI) Clinical Management Guidelines of six-month eye exams are followed (Gifford et al, 2019).
- Long-Term Benefits of Myopia Control Mounting evidence shows the link between myopia and a lifelong risk of eye disease and vision impairment, even at lower levels of myopia (Flitcroft, 2012). As the eye stretches due to progressing myopia, the risk of vision impairment by age 75 increases from around 4% for eyes up to 26mm in axial length to 25% for eyes more than 26mm and up to 90% for eyes longer than 30mm (Tideman et al, 2016). When fitting children with myopia-controlling contact lenses—arguably riskier compared to spectacle options—the likelihood of one case of lens-related eye infection in 10 years of childhood lens wear is lower compared to any of the long-term vision impairment risks associated with myopia (Gifford, 2020). While these long-term benefits may be difficult for parents to grasp, the risks are real, and the potential to make a difference to our patients’ lifelong eye health is an imperative.
Need More Reasons?
In 2021, the IMI published its second volume of landmark reports detailing myopia’s public health impact, risk factors, and pathologies as well as updates to the 2019 reports (Wolffsohn et al, 2021). The World Council of Optometry (2021) also made a unanimous resolution and call to adopt myopia management as the standard of care. This indicates the global recognition of the importance of myopia management.
On the practitioner level, myopia management offers the opportunity to deliver better care and clearer vision to young patients while also optimizing their chances for improved lifelong eye health and vision outcomes. In addition, it is an unparalleled opportunity for professional growth and challenge, engagement with the leading scientific edge of eye care, and building your own and your practice’s expertise. Myopia management starts with primary eye care, and there are numerous educational and clinical resources available for support. The time is now to get started. CLS
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