Myopia Awareness Week launched to encourage eye tests for children

With 36% of Australians projected to have myopia, or short-sightedness, by 2020, a new pilot campaign has been launched by optometrists to encourage early treatment.

 

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Myopia (short- or near-sightedness) is becoming a major public health crisis and is already having an impact on young Australians, increasing their risk of developing sight-threatening conditions later in life.

By 2050 there will be almost 5 billion people with myopia globally. Nearly 1 billion will be in the high myopia category, placing them at significantly increased risk of potentially blinding conditions like cataract, glaucoma, retinal detachment, myopic maculopathy and macular degeneration.

This alarming increase in prevalence is happening in Australia, with studies around Sydney having shown a doubling of rates of myopia in recent decades. It is projected that 36% of Australians will be myopic by 2020, increasing to 55% by 2050.

Myopia Awareness Week, which is being piloted in NSW from 14 - 18 May, is a partnership between Brien Holden Vision Institute, the Centre for Eye Health, Optometry NSW/ACT, and the UNSW School of Optometry and Vision Science.

“Wearing glasses is not curing myopia, it’s simply relieving the symptoms,” says Professor Kovin Naidoo, CEO of Brien Holden Vision Institute, based at UNSW.

“We need to change how people, parents and children in particular, perceive this condition, especially the potential consequences to vision later in life if early treatment is not received,” he adds. “As well as providing appropriate myopia management treatments, eye care practitioners have a key role in this education process.”

For more information see the website.

Key facts:

  • 36% of Australians will be myopic (short- or near-sighted) in 2020
  • By 2050, 55% of the country will have the condition
  • High levels of myopia increase the risk of potentially blinding conditions later in life
  • Standard glasses do not prevent the condition from progressing
  • Myopia Awareness Week 14-18 May

Myopia Awareness Week's aims are:

  1. To raise awareness in the Australian community about myopia
  2. To highlight the critical role optometrists play in treating myopia
  3. To encourage optometrists to stay current with emerging trends in myopia control and management.D