Northampton eye specialist backs campaign to stop epidemic gripping children in the UK

Myopia is now twice as common as it was in the 1960s

Monday, 9th May 2022, 10:15 am

A Northampton-based optometrists is backing a new campaign and educational resource focusing on an eye health epidemic gripping children in the UK.

Myopia (also known as short-sightedness) affects one in three people in the UK; however, it is now twice as common as it was in the 1960s. High myopia can cause serious eye problems later in life, including complications that could ultimately lead to blindness.

Tompkins Knight & Son Optometrists is giving its full support to MyopiaFocus.org – a new parent-focused portal designed to raise awareness of the myopia epidemic and connect parents with local myopia management specialists to help them manage their child’s condition. It is a space and community for all parents to inform themselves on myopia and the various management options that are available.

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Jason Higginbotham - Myopia Focus - Managing Editor

Dr Keyur Patel from TK&S Optometrists, who said: “For many years, it was felt that a refractive solution was all that was needed to ‘treat’ myopia.

"Since as early as 1998 we have known that increasing myopia with increasing axial length puts our patients at increased risk of (currently) irreversible visual disability and, in the worst cases, blindness.

“We now have many tools at our disposal to try to reduce the potential levels of myopia, and it is up to eyecare professionals to educate our patients. Myopia Focus provides a valuable resource and I hope it can help kickstart these conversations with parents.”

Myopia is now considered by the World Council of Optometry as a ‘serious eye condition that all children should be screened for’. The World Health Organization predicts that up to half of all people will have myopia by 2050. In 2015. WCO declared that the ‘standard of care for myopia must include early detection in children, allowing myopia management with evidence-based treatments to prevent catastrophic healthcare effect.’

In the years before screens, children played outside, which provided more natural light and allowed the eyes to focus on long distances. Now, with play and education using iPads, phones, and computers the eyes are too regularly focussed on objects right in front of the eye. There is less distance viewing and less light, and less switching between focuses because children are in a close proximity environment of small spaces.