Myopia Epidemic

Myopia, known as short-sightedness, is a condition that results in blurred distance vision. This occurs due to refractive error; a consequence of an elongated eyeball causing distant objects to be focussed in front of rather than on the light-sensitive retina. Low levels of outside activity and light exposure, prolonged near tasks, and having at least one myopic parent all increase the risk of developing myopia.

The prevalence of myopia is on the rise globally, the circumstances of modern living have drastically increased myopia risk; children being introduced to digital devices at an early age, has led to increased prolonged periods of up-close visual focussing and reduced time spent outdoors. It’s estimated that over 50% of the global population will be myopic by 2050, and in fact, 40% of Australians already are. Interestingly, Aussie kids living in urban areas are approximately 2.6 times more likely to experience myopia than those living rurally.

Covid-19 has also had a significant impact on the progression of childhood myopia as a direct result of extended lockdowns. According to a large-scale Chinese study conducted in 2020, the prevalence of myopia in six-year-olds increased by 400%. This catastrophic increase is especially worrisome as 6-8-year-olds are in an important developmental stage for the onset and progression of myopia. 

Uncorrected myopia has a major influence on the quality of life of young people, as poor vision can substantially impact a child’s development as well as scholastic performance. 80% of classroom learning is visual and therefore it is extremely important for a myopic child to have the correct care and support they require to thrive.

Early detection is also crucial as each year of delay in developing myopia significantly reduces the risk of a child developing high myopia in adulthood. High myopia leads to a greater risk of developing sight-threatening complications in adulthood; these include myopic maculopathy, glaucoma, cataracts, and retinal detachment, all of which can lead to significantly reduced vision or blindness.


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