29/06/2017
Children's Vision
Eye health
Myopia Prevention
Resources Blog

The myopia boom – Are your glasses making your eyes worse?

- by Gary Rodney, Master of Optometry, Behavioural Optometrist & Orthokeratologist at Smart Vision Optometry

Are you concerned that your child’s eyes keep getting worse year after year? It’s not without a reason. But there is something you can do to change this pattern and escape the statistics.

Myopia (also known as shortsightedness or nearsightedness) is reaching epidemic proportions and its rapid increase has become a major public health concern worldwide. If current trends continue, almost half the world’s population will be shortsighted by 2050, with one-fifth of those expected to have a significantly increased risk of blindness1. That’s an eight-fold increase in the number of people with myopia in just a few decades.

While genes can predict the risk of myopia, they alone cannot explain the recent myopia boom. Several authors attribute it to environmental factors and lifestyle changes such as more near-work activities – including the use of computers and smartphones – and less time spent outdoors.

We now know that no level of myopia is safe for the long-term protection against permanent loss of sight. A recent studyshows that myopia of even -1.00 brings with it an increased lifetime risk of glaucoma and cataracts, as well as three times more chances of retinal detachment and two times more chances of myopic macular degeneration, which often leads to blindness. These risks grow exponentially for increasing levels of myopia – and refractive surgery does not change the odds.

One of the unfortunate realities of contemporary eye care is that, despite extensive research, many clinicians continue to claim that no one has ever proven that acquired myopia is not inherited and that nothing can be done to stop your child’s eyes from getting worse. Or what is even more alarming – they still prescribe the traditional treatment to alleviate the symptoms, which has repeatedly shown no beneficial effect and is proven by research3 to only aggravate the problem in the long run. That’s right – wearing traditional, single-focus glasses or contact lenses is the worst thing you can do to prevent myopia from progressing.

I have dedicated the last 25 years of my life to the study and practice of the latest treatments to prevent the progression of myopia in children and adults. Although an outright cure for myopia has not been discovered, there are several ways to improve how your child’s eyes are changing. YES, myopia progression can be prevented, slowed and, in some cases, stopped.

If you would like to know more about the treatments available to control and prevent myopia from progressing further, visit www.myopiaprevention.com.au.

[1] Holden et al.: Global prevalence of myopia and high myopia and temporal trends from 2000 through 2050 (Ophthalmology 2016; 123:1036-1042).

[2] Flitcroft DI.: The complex interactions of retinal, optical and environmental factors in myopia aetiology (Progress in retinal and eye research 2012;31:622-60).

[2] Flitcroft DI.: The complex interactions of retinal, optical and environmental factors in myopia aetiology (Progress in retinal and eye research 2012;31:622-60).

[3] Winawer, Jonathan; Wallman, Josh: Temporal constraints on lens compensation in chicks (Vision Research, Vol. 42, No. 24, 11.2002, p. 2651-2).