An Introduction to Myopia
You have probably heard of the terms short-sighted or nearsighted, well myopia is just the medical term. Put simply, myopia is an eye condition that means that distant objects often appear blurry whilst near objects are generally much clearer to see.
Previously just considered as short sight and something that just required glasses or contact lenses to correct, it has now been recognised that myopia is one of the largest risks to the long term eye health of the global population.
Not only is uncorrected myopia the largest cause of treatable visual impairment in the world, it is now becoming one of the largest causes of ocular complications that lead to sight impairment and severe sight impairment (blindness) globally.
Already in parts of South East Asia, myopia is a larger cause of blindness than glaucoma, cataract or macular degeneration for example
A Growing Problem
In 2010, there were roughly 2 billion people with some level of myopia globally. It is estimated that by 2050, 5 billion people (likely 50% of the total global population) will be myopic and nearly 1 billion people will have high myopia, which carries a much higher risk of severe sight impairment. Taking this all into consideration not only is the human cost huge but also the potential damage to economies.
Here in the U.K., currently, myopia is present in about 33% of the population, but this is very likely to rise to 60% by 2050.
More recent studies have shown that the rates of progression and incidence of the condition are increasing at rates higher than previously thought.
Since the Covid-19 crisis began, for example, the increased use of screen time by younger people and the reduced amount of time spent outdoors has led to a clinically significant increase in the levels of myopia in children.
In 2015, the World Health Organisation declared that myopia was now at epidemic levels and was a significant threat to peoples long term health and well-being.
Myopia - Facts & Stats
1 in 3 people in the UK are affected by myopia
2.6 billion people worldwide have myopia, or nearsightedness
2050 half of the world's population will have myopia
Singapore has the highest prevalence of myopia, with 80% of the population being myopic
In the last 50 years the number of children with myopia in the UK has doubled
Myopia is the leading cause of distance refractive error
With childhood myopia being such a significant and growing problem, Occuity are supporting, Jason Higginbotham with the launch of MyopiaFocus - to raise awareness of the condition and provide a resource for parents who want more information on myopia and to help them find support to improve the long term prognosis for their children.
Myopia Focus has also launched a campaign to petition the government to change the way myopia is tackled, and for the NHS to recognise myopia as an ocular disease and fund Myopia Management for Children. Myopia control can decrease the progression of near sightedness by 50 percent in children, with myopia management strategies shown to significantly help reduce the risk to their vision in the future, but it is not freely available. You can help raise the importance of this significant healthcare challenge by taking 1 minute to sign our petition.
Whilst there is currently no cure for Myopia, clinical evidence has proven that a myopia management plan can significantly reduce or even stop the progression especially in children.
Axial length (AXL) has been well established as the critical measurement in studies looking at the progression and control of myopia.
The Occuity AX1 will be the world's first handheld, optical, non-contact meter, capable of directly measuring axial length quickly, easily and safely. The AX1 will provide optometrists with a superb solution for their need to accurately measure axial length to monitor the progression of myopia and provide a valuable tool in monitoring the success of orthokeratology treatment in reducing myopic progression.