Myopia Awareness Week, 23-29 May 2022
22 May
Posted in News

Myopia Awareness Week, 23-29 May 2022

All parents of short-sighted children are urged to have a "MyopiaChat" with their optician

PRESS RELEASE | Myopia Awareness Week, 23-29 May 2022 | #MyopiaChat Campaign

Over 2 million UK parents who have been told their child has "short sight" by their optician are unaware that it is a casual term for a disease called myopia that is directly linked in later life to retinal detachment, eye disease and in the worst cases blindness. As part of the global Myopia Awareness Week (23-29 May) parents of short-sighted children in the Northern Ireland are being urged to:

  1. Ask their optician for a MyopiaChat
  2. Learn how to have a MyopiaChat with their child
  3. Find out more about their child’s myopia at myopiachat.org

The UK myopia epidemic as part of a global myopia pandemic

In some parts of the UK as many as 1 in 3 children now have myopia. The UK is in the middle of a silent myopia epidemic, accelerated by increased screen time and decreased outdoor time during lockdown2. The number of children with myopia is growing at the rate of around 160,000 children a year, 440 every day. 2.5 million children under 18 either have myopia or will develop it within the next few years. Myopia numbers are set to keep accelerating over the next decade in line with a global pandemic where 50% of the world is predicted to have myopia by 20503.

The higher the myopia, the higher the risk of eye disease. If parents are proactive and start early, myopia in children can now be controlled by more outdoor time, less and adapted screen use and with either myopia control glasses, day lenses or night lenses. Stopping children’s short sight getting worse not only gives their children better vision throughout their life, but it can also decrease their child’s risks of eye disease later in life by over 40%1.

Mark Mackey says:

“In the UK we don’t link the term ‘short sight’ in children with long term eye disease. Once parents understand that short sight is a disease called myopia, they take it seriously. Education is key, which is why, as part of the #MyopiaChat campaign during this global Myopia Awareness Week, we are urging all parents in the [name your region] area to ask their optician for a MyopiaChat and to educate themselves about myopia. Children know to avoid excessive sweets and to brush their teeth twice a day to stop them silently rotting away over time. It’s important that they start to think about their eyes like this. Sweets are to teeth what poor and excessive screen use are to eyes. 14 hours of outdoor time per week4 is to eyes what brushing is to teeth, proven to help stop deterioration. You wouldn’t let your child guzzle sweets an hour before bed and go to sleep without brushing their teeth. Yet we routinely let children stare at a screen close to their face in the dark before bed. It has the same damaging effect. A change of mindset about myopia (short sight) is urgently needed.”

Tom Griffiths, Managing Director of Scotlens | Custom fit contact lenses, is the originator of the #MyopiaChat campaign and the www.myopiachat.org parent advice site. As a parent, Tom wasn't given a MyopiaChat by his optician at his 9-year-old son’s first diagnosis of myopia. He only discovered the term myopia 5 years later, after which he put his son into night lenses, a myopia control device. His son’s myopia has been stable since. Tom wants every parent to be given a MyopiaChat at first diagnosis of myopia:

"Our optician casually told us my son "… has short sight, we'll fit him for glasses". We thought nothing of it. It was a shock to discover later that this casual reference to short sight was actually a positive diagnosis for a medical condition called myopia, that is not only linked directly to retinal detachment and eye disease but can also be controlled. A high myope falling at -1 Dioptre per year, at the age of 14, at -4.5D, we put my son into night lenses, a myopia control device. Now 17, his myopia has been stable for 3 years. As he gets older he should still be able to see the top letter of the eye chart unaided, which is all he can see now. Had we not stabilised his myopia he probably wouldn't be able to see the chart, let alone the letters and would have at least a 40% increased risk of eye disease. Had we started myopia control at first diagnosis aged 9, he might have been able to see down to the legal driving limit and would have a small risk of eye disease later in life. Better sight and a better life are why it's essential that all parents are given a MyopiaChat at first diagnosis of myopia.”

Advice to parents of short-sighted children

  1. Have a MyopiaChat with your optician immediately. Let them tell you what it means and your child’s prognosis. Many kids will have mild myopia. However, if it is progressing, you need to know and be proactive with myopia management.
  2. If you are able, engage in myopia management and control devices as soon as you can because the difference in their life will be immeasurable. There are 4 main options for Myopia Control and Management
  3. More time outdoors (14 hours per week4)
  4. Myopia control glasses
  5. Myopia control day lenses
  6. Night lenses

Further detail on myopia control devices:

- Myopia control GLASSES Specialist glasses lenses that focus the light better around the edge of the eye. Worn like normal glasses Further info: https://www.mykidsvision.org/blog/spectacle-lens-options

- Myopia control DAY LENSES Specialist contact lenses worn during the day that focus the light better around the edge of the eye Further info: https://www.nih.gov/news-events/news-releases/multifocal-contact-lenses-slow-myopia-progression-children

- NIGHT LENSES Contact lenses that correct your eye while you sleep. No need for glasses or contact lenses during the day Further info: www.nightlenses.com

Please also visit the section on our website on Myopia Management 

Mackey Opticians

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