The world’s first global institute to tackle the emerging epidemic of myopia will be based in Australia and involve a consortium of the world’s leading scientists and researchers.
The Myopia Institute will be established by 1 August 2015 and governed by the Vision CRC. Its administration and funding base will initially be in Sydney at the Brien Holden Vision Institute (BHVI) but its board and members will be global. The Institute advisory board will be made up of key myopia scientists/researchers that will provide the strategy and direction.
Dr. Monica Jong, the Executive Manager of The Myopia Institute, said the Myopia Institute has been launched to tackle the evidence around the emerging epidemic of myopia. “The prevalence of myopia has been increasing worldwide and is projected to affect almost 50 per cent of the world by 2050. But until now, there has not been one universal body, working globally to collect the evidence and research, and discuss strategies to guide governments, scientists and clinicians on how to approach, and how to stem the future tide of vision impairment and blindness associated with increasing levels of myopia.”
The late Professor Brien Holden who founded and led BHVI said the independent scientific organisation would collate and discuss evidence-based knowledge about the causes of myopia, its prevalence and consequences, particularly those of high myopia, and possible interventions that might be useful in controlling the condition and its side-effects.
“The institute will consist of 100 distinguished scientists and researchers in the area of myopia reviewing the latest scientific findings in all areas of myopia research and preparing publications and information for all stakeholders,” said Professor Holden.
“They will take part in the institute’s programs, and scientific meetings, writing and collating position papers and scientific articles.
“The institute will discuss research and areas needing research, pointing out what is known, what is not known that needs to be investigated, and researchers anywhere can then take up the challenge in a co-ordinated, co-operative and fully-informed way.
“This sharing of knowledge will advance everyone’s thinking and planning. A major theme will be the control of myopia with the aim of stemming the tide and the side-effects.
“We know that some drugs, increasing outdoor time, myopia control spectacles and myopia control contact lenses do work. The question is whether their effects could be synergistic,” said Professor Holden.
Dr. Jong said Australia is the centre for the Institute because the country has a “unique geographic and economic location as part of Asia, which is at the heart of the myopia epidemic yet has a rich tradition of collaborating in research throughout the region. Australia itself is also showing an increase in the prevalence of myopia, as reported by the Sydney Myopia Study”.
“In addition, the Australian Government Vision CRC program was established as a wonderful global collaborative research centre whose core values as expressed in its Constitution are, most generally to:
‘….provide new ways of treating and correcting defects of vision and conditions of the eye and more particularly to conduct eye research, technology, education and delivery of vision correction and eye care including but not limited to… myopia…’.
“But, the Myopia Institute in essence is a truly global organisation with its board and members representing the world,” said Dr. Jong.
She said members of The Myopia Institute will meet annually at a global scientific symposium where they will share the latest advances and developments in myopia research and contribute to a special ‘evidence issue’ publication in a peer-reviewed scientific journal. The latest information will then be adapted and released to the clinicians and the general public. Other smaller side meetings will take place throughout the year but there will also be a website where members and researchers can keep up to date with the latest evidence-based scientific findings.
Dr. Jong said even prior to the institute’s official opening in August, outcomes were being achieved. “We have an established board, identified the members and organised with a prestigious international journal publication a special issue supplement. We are confirming a time for the annual scientific symposia which will take place next year. Within a year we will have had the annual scientific symposia and by one and a half years, we will have a special issue published which will provide clarity on the best evidence based approach to tackling the issue of myopia,” she said.
“Even though much has been done on the development of myopia, and myopia intervention strategies, there has not been one body that has come together to review all the evidence and translate it into best clinical practice. We hope to eventually see clinicians embracing the non-biased, critically reviewed and updated evidence that The Myopia Institute will provide, into their daily practice.”
Source: Optometry Australia