Join the big UK myopia conversation
By 2050, 50% of the world is predicted to have Myopia [Source: Brien Holden]. It is being described as a global ‘pandemic’ that will affect the lives of children worldwide. Around 1.5 million under 18’s have myopia in the UK, growing by >160,000 per year.
A UK myopia epidemic is rife in our children, exacerbated by increased lockdown screentime [Source Wang 14/01/21; British Journal of Ophthalmology]. By educating all parents of myopic children, and indeed, all children who have myopia, the UK can fight and maybe beat this epidemic. Giving our children better sight and better lives.
“Short sight” = myopia = disease
1. We use the harmless colloquial term ‘short sight’ for the medical term (disease) ‘myopia’. As a result >2 million parents are unaware their children have a medical condition called myopia that is linked to eye disease, which can be managed/controlled if they start early.
A MyopiaChat between opticians & parents, and also between parents and their children, will ensure instant education and an opportunity for proactive control/management.
2. Currently myopia management / control options are not available on the NHS. Many carry price tags that may prohibit lower income families, meaning stabilising myopia to give better sight and decreased risks of eye disease is currently the privilege of those who can afford it. This is not right. No child should be left behind.
This campaign has been originated by Tom Griffiths, a parent whose optometrist never gave them a ‘MyopiaChat’. They were simply told their 9 year old son had ‘short sight’. He lost 1.00D /year. 4 years later, at -4.00D, he was fitted with a myopia control device by another optometrist after a chance conversation between mums in a playground. 3 years on, aged 17, his myopia is stable at -4.50D.
It was 5 years after first diagnosis of ‘short sight’ that Tom and his wife Carolyn learnt that ‘short sight’ = myopia, a medical condition linked to eye disease that can be controlled. They were staggered they were never told this, something they felt they had a right to know. That every parent has a right to know.
Every parent should be given a MyopiaChat by their optician.
Every parent should have a MyopiaChat with their child.
Full disclosure: Tom became so passionate about raising awareness amongst parents that he joined the optical industry and is now the MD of Scotlens, which manufactures night lenses, the myopia control device his son uses. He is also the originator of the www.nightlenses.com website that educates the public about Night Lenses, the device that stabilised his son’s myopia.
Now 17, Benjamin has stable myopia and surfs freely, an activity he would never have been able to do.