Myopia (Short-sightedness) Prevalence
The prevalence of myopia in young people is increasing worldwide, bringing with it a host of health risks and related costs.
In the United States, myopia has doubled in the space of 30 years.1 A UK study found that nearly 50% of university students were myopic.2 In Taiwan, research shows an increase of almost 65% over the past 50 years.3 Worldwide, the prevalence of myopia is expected to increase from 2 billion in 2010 to 5 billion in 2050.4
The toll of myopia
In addition to the extra reliance on an optical correction, increased myopia causes substantial costs to the individual and society. Compared to emmetropes, patients with even 1 dioptre of myopia face an increased lifetime risk of developing glaucoma, posterior subcapsular cataracts, retinal detachment and macular degeneration.
Options for prevention and correction
In the last dozen years, a number of well researched studies have shown that there are interventions that can be used to reduce the progression in short-sightedness and therefore the severity of the final level of myopia.
- Behavioural change
The chances of a child becoming myopic are reduced by approximately 30% if the child spends more than 14 daytime hours a week outdoors.6 Therefore it is advised to encourage children to engage in outdoor activities as a preventative measure.
- Pharmaceutical treatment
Atropine (not yet commercially available in all countries) has been shown to significantly control myopia progression when administered at 0.01%. Unfortunately the drug is not without side effects and at present, is not available yet in the UK. 7
- Spectacle lenses
In terms of control, evidence suggests that for certain progressing myopes (with a condition called esophoria and accommodative lag), spectacles with bifocal or progressive lenses can reduce the progression of myopia by 38–47%.8
Although it is intuitive to think it, the evidence for undercorrecting a child’s myopia (i.e. giving a lower prescription than they theoretically need) actually indicates that the myopia progression increases.13 This is therefore not recommended as an evidence-based treatment.
- Contact lens control
Soft multifocal lenses have been shown to significantly slow the progression of myopia.11 The MiSight Dual Focus 1 Day contact lens has been shown to reduce the progression of myopia by an average of 59% over three years in 8 to 16 year olds.12,13 Click here to download more information about the MiSight 1 Day Contact Lens.
Of course, wearing contact lenses can pose challenges for paediatric patients, and each youngster’s ability to maintain proper hygiene and compliance habits must be thoughtfully assessed.
1 Vitale S, Sperduto RD, Ferris FL 3rd. Increased prevalence of myopia in the United States between 1971-1972 and 1999-2004. Arch Ophthalmol. 2009;127(12):1632-1639.
2 Logan NS, Davies LN, Mallen EA, Gilmartin B. Ametropia and ocular biometry in a U.K. university student population. Optom Vis Sci. 2005;82(4):261-266.
3 Guo YH, Lin HY, Lin LL, Cheng CY. Self-reported myopia in Taiwan: 2005 Taiwan National Health Interview Survey. Eye (Lond). 2012;26(5):684-689.
4 Flitcroft, DI. The complex interactions of retinal, optical and environmental factors in myopia aetiology. Prog Retin Eye Res. 2012;31(6):622-660.
5 Holden BA, Fricke TR, Wilson DA, et al. Global prevalence of myopia and high myopia and temporal trends from 2000 through 2050. Ophthalmology. 2016;123(5):1036-1042.
6 Rose KA, Morgan IG, Ip J, et al. Outdoor activity reduces the prevalence of myopia in children. Ophthalmology. 2008;115(8):1279-1285.
7 Chia A, Lu QS, Tan D. Five-year clinical trial on atropine for the treatment of myopia 2: myopia control with atropine 0.01% eyedrops. Ophthalmology. 2016;123(2):391-399.
8 Yang Z, Lan W, Ge J, et al. The effectiveness of progressive addition lenses on the progression of myopia in Chinese children. Ophthal Physiol Opt. 2009;29:41-48.
9 Horwood J, Waylen A, Herrick D, et al. Common visual defects and peer victimization in children. Invest Ophthalmol Vis Sci. 2005;46:1177-1181.
10 Walline JJ, Greiner KL, McVey ME, Jones-Jordan LA. Multifocal contact lens myopia control. Optom Vis Sci. 2013;90(11):1207-1214.
11 Sun Y, Xu F, Zhang T, et al. Orthokeratology to control myopia progression: a meta-analysis. PLoS One. 2015;10(4):e0124535.
12 Anstice NS, Phillips JR. Effect of dual-focus soft contact lens wear on axial myopia progression in children. Ophthalmology. 2011;118(6):1152-1161.
13 Data on file, Coopervision Contact Lens
14 Chung K, Mohidin N, O’Leary DJ. Undercorrection of myopia enhances rather than inhibits myopia progression. Vison Res. 2002;42:2555–2559.