The eyesight of billions across the globe is under threat from what is known as myopia. Myopia, also known as near-sightedness or shortsightedness, is a vision condition in which people find it difficult to see distant objects clearly. The prevalence of myopia is increasing at an alarming rate globally. As of today, more than two billion individuals across the globe are diagnosed with myopia. By 2050, five billion or as much as half the world’s population will be affected by myopia and nearly one billion will suffer from high myopia. High myopia (-5.0D or more) is associated with a higher risk of serious eye conditions such as glaucoma, cataract, retinal detachment and myopic macular degeneration (MMD) – which can even lead to vision impairment or blindness later in life.
Myopia impacts socio-economic development as it affects individuals, communities and nations. It may impact learning and development in children as 1 in 3 children struggle to see the blackboard (or whiteboard) clearly, negatively affecting their confidence and academic performance. However, despite the magnitude of this challenge, the science of myopia is still young and awareness of the long-term adverse effects of myopia is relatively low.
When detected early, myopia can be managed with the right solutions, substantially reducing these risks. This requires a greater amount of awareness and sensitization to make people open to available solutions. Latest research has demonstrated that a number of different solutions could help in slowing down the progression of myopia in children. Research has already shown that ophthalmic lenses, especially those sourced from reputed global companies, have the capability to both correct myopia and help slow down its progression in myopic children. This non-invasive solution has successfully helped millions of myopic children in Asia over the past few years.
Essilor is the world’s leading ophthalmic optics company with products in more than 100 countries. The company has 28 production plants, over 450 prescription laboratories and cutting and mounting centres as well as several research and development centres worldwide. Maarten Geraets – Chief Executive Officer of Essilor South Asia stated, “Statistics have confirmed that the burden of myopia is 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. We, at Essilor are deeply committed to tackling this growing epidemic. Driving conversations with key opinion leaders and healthcare professionals becomes critical. As eye care professionals, we have a common responsibility to present myopia management solutions as a remedy to manage myopia progression, especially in children. We need a collaborative and comprehensive approach to ensure that we reduce the impact of high myopia in the future decades.”
Prof. M Madhuwanthi Dissanayake, Consultant Eye Surgeon and Professor attached to Faculty of Medicine, University of Colombo emphasized “Refractive errors including myopia need to be detected early to prevent the condition known as “Lazy eye” or amblyopia. Lazy eye is a condition where even if the spectacle correction is done after visual maturation (generally after 7 years of age) the vision cannot be normalized leading to many difficulties at later stages in life such as obtaining driving license or job recruitment. Therefore, the awareness of parents and teachers in this regard is very important in tackling refractive errors in the future generation”.
Kumari S. Fonseka – Group Director – Eye Care and Research & Development (R&D) of Vision Care Group of Companies stated, “Myopia is a serious issue on a global scale and it’s no different here in Sri Lanka. As a responsible organisation that offers comprehensive eye care solutions, it is our duty to create awareness about the risks of myopia and offer the world’s best solutions available today to them. The general public needs to understand that early detection is key as it can go a long way in helping to manage myopia through the proper eye care solutions. So, it is important that individuals reach out to eye care specialists to get an understanding of the risks and get tested.”