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Myopia (nearsightedness) is a common condition usually diagnosed before age 20. It affects distance vision — one can see objects nearby, but will have trouble viewing objects farther away like grocery store aisle markers or road signs.

Myopia occurs when the eye elongates, causing light to focus in front of the retina instead of directly on it, resulting in blurred distance vision. While genetics play a role, environmental factors such as increased near work, lack of outdoor time, and lifestyle changes are significant contributors to the rising myopia rates.

Myopia has been on a staggering rise worldwide, affecting about 2.6 billion people in 2020, according to the World Health Organization. Recent findings from leading optometry organizations shed light on this growing public health concern and the urgency to address it.

The American Optometric Association‘s 2023 report highlights the alarming increase in myopia prevalence, particularly among school-aged children. The report cites excessive screen time, reduced outdoor activity, and genetic factors as significant contributors to this trend.

Similarly, the British College of Optometrists‘ 2023 study emphasizes the long-term impact of myopia on eye health. High myopia levels increase the risk of developing serious eye conditions such as retinal detachment, glaucoma, and myopic macular degeneration, which can lead to irreversible vision loss.

So how do we combat this global myopia epidemic?

Optometry bodies worldwide are advocating for comprehensive myopia management strategies. These include:

1. Early detection and intervention: Regular eye examinations from an early age can help detect and monitor myopia progression, allowing for timely treatment.

2. Increased outdoor time: Encouraging children to spend more time outdoors has been shown to reduce the risk of developing myopia and slow its progression.

3. Myopia control treatments: Options like orthokeratology (overnight rigid contact lenses), multifocal soft contact lenses, and low-dose atropine eye drops can effectively slow myopia progression in children.

4. Lifestyle modifications: Reducing excessive near work, such as prolonged screen time, and incorporating regular breaks can help alleviate eye strain and potential myopia development.

Raising awareness about the global myopia surge and its associated risks is crucial. By implementing preventive measures and effective treatment strategies, we can help protect the vision and eye health of current and future generations.

The key is early awareness, and the children are the future. These lifestyle changes can turn the tide against the rise in myopia cases worldwide. If we all play our part, we can make a change. Contact us for more information on how you can help win the fight.