You are today (sadly), more than familiar with the words “epidemic” and “pandemic”. And as the whole world has its eyes on the evolution of the virus, another more subtle epidemic is currently raging in Canada and around the world and threatens to modify the way we see the world (quite literally).
The epidemic: Myopia.
The increase of myopia cases among children is alarming. In Canada, a third of children aged 11 to 13 currently has myopia. It is estimated that 50% of Canada’s population will have myopia in 2050. In Asia, 8 out of 10 young adults already have myopia.
The earlier a child develops this refractive error in their life, the higher the chances that their prescription as an adult will be high, and the higher the risks of complications. People presenting high myopia have higher risks of developing eye diseases like posterior subcapsular cataracts, retinal detachment and myopic maculopathy.
Two leading causes are being looked at. The first one, not a big surprise when we think about it, is our lifestyle. In short, children spend less time looking far away and more time looking near. They play outside less and spend more time inside, and are exposed to screens earlier in life. Data is clear: According to Quebec’s Optometrists Association, children who spend 40 to 90 minutes playing outside every day present lower myopia levels than those who stay inside more. Moreover, many studies prove that playing outside for longer periods allows reducing the progression of myopia. The second cause is sadly outside of our control (here you might answer: for now!): heredity.
This video describes the current situation pretty well:
Diagnosing myopia early and wearing glasses or contact lenses to improve vision can help slow down the progression of myopia. That’s why making sure your child visits their Optometrist yearly is essential. Furthermore, encouraging kids to play outside and intersecting activities that require to look at a short distance like screens and reading with breaks will help limit the evolution of this refractive error.
For more information on the topic, visit https://fightmyopia.ca/
 Wong, Yee-Ling BSc; Saw, Seang-Mei MBBS, MPH, PhD, FAMS, FARVO Epidemiology of Pathologic Myopia in Asia and Worldwide, Asia-Pacific Journal of Ophthalmology: November/December 2016 - Volume 5 - Issue 6 - p 394-402