MANILA, 19 June 2019 — Essilor, the world’s leading ophthalmic optics company, has affirmed its commitment to tackling the growing myopia epidemic as the platinum sponsor of the Asia Pacific Optometry Congress 2019 of held in Manila, Philippines. Acknowledging Congress dedicated one whole day to discuss ways for eye care professionals to better manage childhood myopia. This was the first time that a myopia management symposium of this scale was held in the Philippines.
The four-day Congress hosted by the Asia-Pacific Council of Optometry and the Optometric Association of the Philippines, brought together 28 renowned speakers from over 22 countries to explore the latest advances in optometry. During the myopia symposium, some of the industry’s top eyecare professionals shared their experiences and best practices in managing their patients’ progression. They also discussed the different solutions available today.
The prevalence of short-sightedness is increasing at an alarming rate. As of today, more than two billion individuals are diagnosed with myopia. By 2050, five billion or half the world will be affected by myopia and nearly one billion will suffer from high myopia.
Myopia is a vision condition in which people find it difficult to see distant objects clearly. Some call it short-sightedness or near-sightedness. High myopia (-5.0D or more) is associated with a higher risk of serious eye conditions. These include glaucoma, cataract, retinal detachment and myopic macular degeneration (MMD) — which can even lead to blindness later in life. However, when detected early, patients can have access to the right solutions, substantially reducing these risks.
Myopia impacts not only individuals, but also communities and nations. It may impact learning and development. In fact, one in three children can’t see the blackboard (or whiteboard) clearly, affecting their academic performance. It also affects socio-economic development. The global direct cost for lost productivity due to vision impairment from myopia is estimated at $392 billion.
Children and myopia
A major cause for concern is that more children with myopia cases are younger than before. Studies suggest rapid increases in the prevalence of childhood myopia, it’s affecting 80 to 90 per cent of young people in some major cities in Asia.
Even in the Philippines, myopia prevalence (-0.50D or more) has been steadily increasing each decade. Nearly 40% of the overall population currently being myopic. It is predicted to increase to nearly 50% by 2030 and 60% by 2050.
Despite its magnitude, the science of myopia is still young. The awareness of the long-term adverse effects of myopia is low. Essilor’s survey has shown that only five to six per cent of parents in the United States and China are aware of the solutions. This growing prevalence among children has been associated with different factors. This includes increased near work activities and less outdoor time, which are consequences of rising educational pressures and urbanization.
The Department of Health (DOH) has issued an alarm on the rising number of children who are suffering from myopia. Alarming numbers are spiking in developed cities like Metro Manila and Cebu. According to DOH, it starts from their constant use of electronic gadgets. DOH Undersecretary Eric Domingo noted that the gadgets serve as “babysitters” to the children to keep them occupied.
Essilor also emphasized the important role that parents play in ensuring the vision health of their children. To delay onset of myopia, parents should encourage children to minimize near distance work and spend more time outdoors. Taking regular vision or outdoor activity breaks during near work can help. With regard to the usage of various electronic devices, it’s not actually the digital devices itself. However, the fact that children use digital devices at a shorter distnace, increases the risk of myopia. They advised to encourage children to maintain an optimal reading distance from the screen. The ideal measure is between the elbow and the fingers.
When detected early, myopia can be managed—substantially reducing the risks of long-term eye diseases. Regular eye examinations are key to early detection of myopia in children. The sooner you detect a child’s myopia, the earlier you will get access to solutions and proper eye care.
It is critical for parents to know that regular eye exams are as important as basic health screening. It is important for children to have regular eye checks, once every six months. Although schools are screening children for myopia, it’s better to take them for eye checks. See if they are squinting, having headaches or if they complain of blurred vision.
Addressing media at the Congress, Dr. John Ang, President, The International Vision Academy, Vice-President, Education & Professional Services Essilor Asia-Pacific, Middle East, Russia, and Africa, said “As eyecare professionals, we have a common responsibility to present myopia management solutions as an option to manage myopia progression in children. We need to act fast, and we need to act now to be able to reduce associated long-term visual health risks, because once myopia progresses, you can’t turn back time. That’s why driving the conversation at forums such as this Congress is critical to ensuring that we reduce the impact of high myopia in the future decades.”
Mr. Kovin Naidoo, Senior Vice President of Inclusive Business, Philanthropy and Social Impact, Essilor, said in his keynote address, “We’ve already seen that the statistics for the burden of myopia are alarming, and the level of high myopia and associated complications are only going to increase further. To reverse this trend, it is critical to consolidate efforts amongst the public sector, healthcare professionals, NGOs, inclusive businesses, social enterprises and private players.”
“Together, we need to adopt a comprehensive approach to improve accessibility, drive research and innovative product development, educate eye care practitioners, build coalitions and partnerships, initiate early intervention programmes at schools and effect policy change,” Naidoo added.
Essilor’s fight against myopia
Research says that a number of different solutions exist in slowing down the progression of myopia in children. Myopilux® is a range of ophthalmic lenses developed by Essilor, and is designed to both correct myopia and help slow down its progression in myopic children. This non-invasive solution has successfully helped more than one million myopic children in Asia over the last eight years.
Myopilux® Max lenses have slowed down myopia progression by up to 51 per cent compared to other regular single vision lenses. Myopilux® was presented at the Congress with live demonstrations on the proper use of Essilor’s products.
Essilor also recently pledged its support for the publication of eight highly-anticipated white papers by International Myopia Institute, which cover a range of topics deemed essential of myopia. Last year, Essilor rallied the eyecare professional community in Asia by supporting the first-ever National Myopia Convention in Singapore and Global Orthokeratology and Myopia Control Conference (GOMCC), the first conference in Malaysia to focus on myopia management. In the Philippines, Essilor has engaged all optical clinics nationwide to provide information on myopia management and Myopilux.
Also read: 15-anyos na mahilig sa gadgets, hindi na nakikita ang mga bagay na mas malayo sa 6-inches mula sa mukha niya