Brien Holden Institute
Prevalence: 50% of the world myopic by 2050

Is Myopia a disease?

Jeffrey J. Walline, OD PhD, Associate Dean for Research, College of Optometry, Columbus

Oxford Dictionary definition of a ‘disease’ is:

a disorder of structure or function in a human, animal, or plant, especially one that produces specific signs or symptoms or that affects a specific location and is not simply a direct result of physical injury.

– Myopia is a mismatch between the optics and length of the eye, so it is a disorder of structure

– Myopia occurs in humans

– Myopia produces distance blur (symptom)

– We didn’t fall down and suddenly become myopic, so it isn’t the direct result of physical injury

Myopia precisely matches the definition of a disease, but for some reason, optometrists don’t tend to think of it as a disease. If optometrists don’t think of it as a disease, then why would we expect our patients or insurance companies to do so?

Because myopia is a disease, we need to do more than simply treat the symptoms. We need to disrupt the disease progression in order to truly treat the disease. Would you ever prescribe only visual field-expanding prism to treat glaucoma? Of course not, so why would you treat progressing myopia with single vision lenses only?