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Myopia in Children: A Predicted Epidemic

The majority (65%) of Australian parents (with children 0-17-years old) do not know what child myopia is and alarmingly, only 12% of parents recognize the eye health risk that their children might develop later in life from myopia.[1] It is important for parents to be aware of myopia, the risk factors and that it can be managed.

Myopia, or short-sightedness causes blurred distance vision, usually starts during childhood and typically progresses until a child stops growing.  There are two main factors which can mean your child is more at risk of developing myopia: lifestyle and family history. 

To slow the progression of myopia, and reduce longer term eye health issues, myopia needs to be managed. There are many evidence-based options now available that can slow the progression of myopia. High myopia is associated with eye health risks later in life so reducing the prevalence and impact of myopia and understanding influencing factors is critical.

Myopia is forecast to reach epidemic proportions globally.[2]  Alarmingly, increases in the global prevalence of myopia and high myopia (a refractive error*of at least -5.00D in either eye)[3] mean that by 2020, it is estimated that 2 billion people worldwide will be affected. [4] By 2050, it is estimated that more than 50% of the world’s population will have myopia and 10% or almost 1 billion will have high myopia.[5]  36% of Australians are predicted to be myopic by 2020 and by 2050, that number is set to increase to 55%.[6] 

 

Lifestyle: modern lifestyles may influence the development of myopia.  These include:

·      Low levels of outdoor activity[7]

·      Low levels of daylight exposure[8]

·      Prolonged near tasks[9] such as reading and gaming on portable devices

 

Family history: The likelihood of developing myopia, particularly high myopia increases when one or both parents are myopic.14  However, the exact link between a family history of myopia and development of childhood myopia remains uncertain.15 With only one myopic parent the risk of the child becoming myopic is about 33%!

For parents who are concerned that their child might be myopic, or at risk of developing myopia, the first step is to have your child’s eyes tested. If your child is diagnosed with myopia, it is important that you talk with your Optometrist about, not only correcting the immediate sight issue, but importantly what can be done to slow progression of myopia.

 

KEY STATISTICS:16

A recent survey looking at parental understanding and perceptions around child myopia in Australia shows:

·         Only 12% of parents know of the lifestyle factors that have an impact on child myopia (low levels of outdoor activity, low levels of light exposure, prolonged near tasks such as reading and gaming on portable devices).

·         31% of Australian kids (17 years and under) have never been to an Optometrist to have an eye test.

·         44% of children have not been to an Optometrist to have an eye test before their ninth birthday.

 

Additional useful information about myopia can be found at www.childmyopia.com

 



16 CooperVision Australia and New Zealand: Child Myopia in Australia – consumer perceptions survey.  op.cit.



[1] CooperVision Australia and New Zealand: Child Myopia in Australia – consumer perceptions survey.  Conducted by YouGovGalaxy August/September 2018 between Wednesday 29 August and Monday 3 September 2018. The sample comprised 1,003 parents of children at home aged 0-18 years. 

[2] The impact of myopia and high myopia: Report of the Joint World Health Organization – Brien Holden Vision Institute Global Scientific Meeting on Myopia. University of New South Wales, Sydney, Australia. 16-18 March 2015

[3] ibid.

[4] ibid.

[5] ibid.

[6] Holden B; Fricke T; Wilson D; Jong M; Naidoo K; Sankaridurg P; Wong T; Naduvilath T; Resnikoff S. Global prevalence of myopia and high myopia and temporal trends from 2000 through

2050. American Academy of Ophthalmology 2016

[7] He M, Xiang F, Zeng Y et al. Effect of Time Spent Outdoors at School on the Development of Myopia Among Children in China: A Randomized Clinical Trial. JAMA 2015; 314:1142-1148

[8] Read SA, Collins MJ, Vincent SJ. Light Exposure and Eye Growth in Childhood. Investigative Ophthalmology and Visual Science 2015: 56(11):6779-6787

[9] Ip JM, Saw SM, Rose KA, Morgan IG, Kifley A, Wang JJ, Mitchell P. Role of Near Work in Myopia: Findings in a Sample of Australian School Children. Investigative Ophthalmology and Visual Science 2008:49(7):2903-2910

14 Lim LT, Gong Y, Ah-Kee EY, Xiao G, Zhang X. Impact of parental history of myopia on the development of myopia in mainland China school-aged children. Ophthalmology and  Eye Disease. 2014;6:31-5

15 Ip J, Huynh S, Robaei D, Rose K, Morgan I, Smith W, Kifley A, Mitchell P. Ethnic differences in the impact of parental myopia: Findings from a population-based study of 12-year old Australian children. Investigative Ophthalmology and Visual Science. 2007:48:2520-2528

Do you see what I see?

 

Our eyes are incredible organs that work long, hard hours to allow us to capture the beauty of the world around us. If we think of our eyes like cameras, our retina is like the film (or digital sensor if you’ve never used a film camera!). The retina contains ~100 million light sensitive cells (rods and cones) that capture light and, through complex layers of cells and connections, sends that signal to our brain to create the images we see. 


Every part of the retina corresponds to a specific area in our vision. The macula is responsible for central vision and the peripheral retina for our side vision. When everything is healthy and working well, we see our world as normal. This all seems so natural that we often take our eyesight for granted. Unfortunately, there is a lot that can go wrong.


So, why do we do retinal scans? We use our scanning technology to check that these complex layers of tissue are healthy. The scans provide important eye health information that we can’t get in any other way. This helps us to ensure the retina can continue to do its job and provide you with normal, natural vision. If we don’t look, we don’t know – it’s that simple.


A common misconception is “my vision seems fine, so my retinas must be fine”. The truth is, early retinal holes, tears and lesions often don’t have symptoms, but if detected and treated promptly vision can be saved. It is very hard to detect subtle changes in your peripheral vision, so things can be changing and go unnoticed. It’s at these early stages that treatment is most effective.


Retinal scans are also a great addition to a general health check. Having a look at the blood vessels inside the eyes not only ensures the retinas are getting the nutrients and oxygen they need, but also tells us a lot about what the blood vessels in the rest of your body are doing. The eye is the only place in the body that we can view uncovered blood vessels! Everywhere else they are under the skin. Retinal scanning technology can detect changes in vasculature from high blood pressure and diabetes. Appropriate management can then be started with your GP to ensure your whole body is as healthy as possible.


Scanning for changes in the eyes over time is a very helpful tool in disease prevention and detection. Having the ability to document and compare scans at every visit is an invaluable tool to better manage your eye health throughout your life. It is vitally important that we take good care of our eyes, so they can keep up with our daily demands for the long-haul.

 

 

Optical extras?
Use them or lose them by December 31.

 

Did you know that you can claim ANY health fund optical benefits with us? Maximise your entitlements and our expertise to find the perfect eyewear for you. We take the time to understand how you use your eyes so that we can tailor our eyewear recommendation for your needs.

 

Just a few of the ways you can use your optical benefits this year:

 

  • Contact Lenses
    The latest technologies in contact lenses means we can prescribe a contact lens solution for almost any prescription.

  • Prescription Sunglasses
    Enjoy clear vision and UV protection at the same time.

  • Digital Eyewear
    Spend a lot of time in front of digital screens? Ask us about digital eyewear to help alleviate the strain on your eyes.

  • New Fashion Look
    We love helping people select a new look from our hand-picked range of frames.

  • Reading Glasses
    If you enjoy reading and do a lot of close-work, a specific pair of reading glasses can provide clear vision and an extra level of comfort for your eyes.

  • Driving Glasses
    Your vision is responsible for around 90% of the information we use for driving. We can assess your vision to ensure maximum road safety with appropriate eyewear.

  • Spare Everyday Pair
    Losing or breaking your glasses can be stressful if you don’t have a back-up pair. Come in and claim a spare pair with your optical extras.

  • Sports Eyewear
    Sport-specific eyewear can enhance both your comfort and performance on the field.  

 

So, come in and let us help you make the most of your optical extras before they expire on December 31!

 

 

 

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Wodonga Eyecare

Healthy Eyes for Life

At Wodonga Eyecare our eye care professionals provide a personalized exam with a particular emphasis on eye health. We offer you helpful advice on how to best meet your visual needs and maintain healthy eyes for life.

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