For eye care professionals everywhere, myopia awareness is a big part of their daily practice. And an increasing number of patients and their caregivers are becoming more and more aware of myopia’s signs, its effects, and its preventability. Worldwide, knowledge of myopia is on the rise, and this is due in large part to the tireless work of countless optometrists, ophthalmologists and research professionals in spreading the word.
This week, May 23-28, is Myopia Awareness Month. As part of the global initiative to raise awareness of myopia, The Brien Holden Vision Institute (BHVI) introduced this special campaign last year to bring greater public attention to the condition.
As the foundation notes, cases of myopia are on the rise everywhere in the world. Nowhere is this problem greater than in East Asia, where the BHVI reports over half of children over 10 are myopic. Other studies have suggested that among junior high school children in this region, the number could be as high as 80%.
But while the highest instances of myopia are located in Asia, it is anything but limited to that region alone. As Dr. Marcus Ang noted in a lecture which we covered last year, it’s a dangerously widespread misconception that myopia is just, or even primarily, an “Asian problem.” Every region of the globe is witnessing an alarming increase in instances of myopia, and current projections indicate that half of the world’s population will have myopia by 2050.
While factors such as study hours and screen time play a significant role in the prevalence of myopia in the developed nations of East Asia, these numbers are also due to the fact that awareness and vision screening are so much higher in this region than in much of the world. This is particularly true in the developing world, where children may not receive eye exams at all.
It is here that organizations like the BHVI are so important. An Australian NGO, the foundation works internationally, cooperating with local governments, to improve eye care worldwide. Part of this work is done in the form of training eye care professionals, and the BHVI has worked to found 14 institutes that have trained nearly a quarter of a million eye care professionals worldwide.
Another aspect of the BHVI’s work, they point out, is in increasing public awareness of conditions where education is lacking. It is here that Myopia Awareness Week comes into play. The foundation is offering two different sets of informational resources: one for parents and caregivers, to offer tips for everyday prevention and management, and another for eye care professionals, which provides helpful materials and ideas to those professionals as leaders in raising myopia awareness.
Because education is so key to reducing myopia, both as a global phenomenon and as a local issue within each community and family as well, this campaign is truly an important one. We hope you will help to get the word out on ways to prevent and treat this disease. Check out the materials available, and as the BHVI reminds us, please remember to use the hashtags #MyopiaAwarenessWeek and #MAW2022 to help spread the conversation!