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Myopia

noun

  1. the quality of being short-sighted.
    "he wore spectacles to correct a mild degree of myopia"

What is myopia?

Myopia is an eye condition, also known as short-sightedness or near-sightedness, which causes people to have difficulty seeing distant objects clearly. In addition to this, myopia is a progressive condition that changes the physical structure of the eye and can lead to vision loss.

The causes of myopia are thought to be both genetic and environmental.

Myopia usually begins in childhood at school age (six years and onwards) and can worsen until early adult years. This is referred to as youth-onset or juvenile-onset myopia. It can also occur in adults (ages 20 to 40) with no prior history of problems in childhood, termed early adult-onset myopia. Babies can also be born with high levels of myopia (congenital myopia).

The onset of myopia at an early age brings with it the likelihood of life-long eye care. There is a significantly increased risk of developing serious eye conditions with high myopia, which can lead to vision loss and blindness. These include cataract, glaucoma, retinal detachment, myopic maculopathy and macular degeneration.

Why is the growing prevalence of myopia important?

It is estimated that almost half the world’s population will be myopic by 2050.1 Growing levels of high myopia are increasing the risks of serious eye conditions which may lead to permanent blindness.

There are more than 1.22 billion people who are blind or vision impaired simply because they don’t have access to an eye examination and a pair of glasses.2,3 Over 100 million of that is due to uncorrected myopia. We believe providing eye care for such an immense number of people requires an urgent and massive response.

Myopia in Australia

The Sydney Myopia Study found 31% of 17 year olds were myopic,4 double the prevalence reported by the Blue Mountains Eye Study more than a decade ago.5 This alarming increase should prompt all parents to have their children's eyes checked by an optometrist.

It is projected that by the year 2020, myopia will affect about 36% of Australians, over 40% of Americans and over 50% of people in some Asian countries.1 It will affect around 34% of the world’s population by 2020.1

References

  1. Holden BA, Fricke TR, Wilson DA, Jong M, Naidoo KS, Sankaridurg P, Wong TY, Naduvilath TJ, Resnikoff S, Global Prevalence of Myopia and High Myopia and Temporal Trends from 2000 through 2050, Ophthalmology, May 2016 Volume 123, Issue 5, Pages 1036–1042.
  2. Flaxman et al. Global causes of blindness and distance vision impairment 1990–2020: a systematic review and meta-analysis. Lancet Global Health. Published online October 11, 2017 http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/S2214-109X(17)30393-5
  3. Bourne et al, Magnitude, temporal trends, and projections of the global prevalence of blindness and distance and near vision impairment: a systematic review and meta-analysis. Lancet Glob Health. 2017 Sep;5(9):e888-e897.
  4. French AN, Morgan IG, Burlutsky G, Mitchell P, Rose KA. Prevalence and 5- to 6-year incidence and progression of myopia and hyperopia in Australian schoolchildren. Ophthalmology 2013;120:1482-91.
  5. Attebo K, Ivers RQ, Mitchell P. Refractive errors in an older population: the Blue Mountains Eye Study. Ophthalmology 1999;106:1066-72.
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