The Myopia epidemic

Look at the people around you. Have you also noticed that more and more people are wearing glasses nowadays? Myopia or Near Sightedness is reaching epidemic proportions especially in Asia. Current estimates are that between 80-90% of Asian young adults have Myopia and about 20% will develop high Myopia (glasses of -6.00D or more). About 30 years ago the rate of Myopia was around 40% in Asia. In the Western world myopia is also on the rise, with rates also double that of 30 years ago.

What are the reasons behind this increase? What causes myopia?

There are several proven causes of Myopia with genetics being one of them. Children of parents with myopia have a significantly higher risk of developing myopia. But more recently some studies have revealed some interesting causes of the increase in Myopia rates.

Change in habits also play a big role. Nowadays children don’t play outside as much anymore, preferring to be inside behind a computer, TV or playing with their phone. Lack of sunlight is a proven factor in the progression of myopia. Studies have shown that children who play 2-3 hours a day outside have a much lower chance of developing myopia than children who don’t. And studying on a PC and playing on a phone (focusing the whole day at close range) also increases the development and speed of progression of myopia. Social pressure on getting high grades in school might actually increase the risk of getting myopia that way.

What are the risks of Myopia?  People with Myopia have an increased risk of developing complications like Myopic Macular degeneration and Retinal Detachment. The higher the Myopia, the greater the risk. If not treated adequately this may lead to blindness.

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What can be done to prevent/reduce the progression of Myopia?

Letting your children play outside in the sun 2-3 hours a day can help a lot. Also, that will reduce the time that they are active on their phones/computers and give them a mental recharge when they need to concentrate on their studies.

In children who already have myopia and where reduction of progression is necessary special contact lenses can be fitted that have shown some reduction of the progression, although some studies have conflicting results. Also, special drops (Atropine in a low concentration), can be prescribed, which have been proven in studies to reduce the progression of Myopia in children.

Other therapies including surgery are also being described in medical literature, but are very drastic. LASIK surgery only treats the symptoms of Myopia and not the side effects nor the progression. People who have had LASIK in the past still have an increased risk for Retinal detachment and Macular degeneration.

As more studies are being done on the causes and treatments of Myopia we will get a better understanding of how to prevent and manage myopia in the future. What is clear though that if modern society doesn’t promote outdoor sports/playtime the problem will only get worse.

If your child has myopia it is never too late to try and reduce the progression of the myopia. Let them play outside and if necessary consult with your ophthalmologist to discuss other treatment options

At the European Eye Center we can offer you several options to reduce the progression of Myopia. Please call to make an appointment or call 02822533572 or 02822533574

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Tel number: (+84) 28 225 33572 and (+84) 28 225 33574
Address: European Eye Center
116 Nguyen Van Huong, Ward Thao Dien, District 2, HCMC
Open hours: Mon-Fri from 8 am till 5 pm & Sat from 8 am till 12 pm

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