Children with high myopia had higher levels of myopia at an earlier age and progressed at a much faster rate than the children with low myopia, according to a study presented at the Association for Research in Vision and Ophthalmology annual meeting (ARVO), by Dr. Monica Jong, Science and Business Development Manager, Brien Holden Vision Institute. Dr. Jong said the finding may help eye care practitioners prevent blindness associated with high levels of the condition.
Myopia affects 1.45 billion people worldwide. It is estimated that this figure will rise to 2.5 billion by the year 2020.
By identifying those at risk of progressing to high levels of the condition at an earlier stage, practitioners will be able to recommend strategies to slow the rate of progression and avoid the risk of potentially blinding conditions such as myopic macular degeneration, retinal detachment and glaucoma, associated with it.
“High myopia* is a very serious condition that affects up to 20 per cent of those with myopia”, said Dr. Jong. “By identifying children who are at a greater risk of developing high myopia earlier on in life, clinicians can suggest suitable preventative strategies such as reduced near work, more time spent out doors and myopia control eye wear that may help reduce myopic progression.”
High myopia* is a very serious condition that affects up to 20 per cent of those with myopia
Dr. Jong’s research compared the characteristics of myopia progression in two groups of children; one that became highly myopic, the other, a group of low myopes.
“My study investigated whether those that become highly myopic have faster rates of myopia progression between the ages of seven and 13 years of age. We found that those children with high myopia had higher levels of myopia at an earlier age and were progressing at a much faster rate than the children with low myopia. Even at 13 years of age, they were still progressing at a significant rate which is a worry when we consider the duration and intensity of education nowadays.
“The results of this research means that, if an eye care practitioner sees a child with myopia that is progressing by more than one dioptre per year, it gives us the opportunity to do something about it.”
Dr. Jong presented her research at ARVO, in Orlando, U.S., held on 4 – 8 May 2014.
*Researchers in the study classify high myopia as powers of 6 dioptres or more.