Stopping the Rise of Myopia

Past Event Date: 

Speaker: 

Professor Lothar Spillmann, University of Freiburg, Germany

Host: 

Christopher Tyler

Meeting room: 

Room 204 - Main Conference Room

Event Type: 

Abstract:

Myopia (near-sightedness) is on the rise worldwide. In East and Southeast Asia, up to 95% of young people require glasses. Up to 20% are highly myopic, with a substantially increased risk of pathological myopia, irreversible visual impairment, and blindness. 

The numbers affected are alarming. Recent projections suggest that about 50% of the world’s population will be myopic by 2050. Of those, 10% will have high myopia. For China, the estimate is about 1 billion myopes and over 100 million high myopes.

The rapid rise must be due to powerful environmental factors and cannot be explained by genetics. Near work and poor illumination at school and at home promotes myopia development, while increased time outdoors slows it by stimulating retinal dopamine release and blocking excessive axial growth of the eye. Progression of myopia can also be slowed with low-dose atropine and orthokeratology (specially designed lenses).

The immediate aim is to reduce the prevalence of high myopia. Only four years after new guidelines were introduced in Taiwan schools, The steep increase in myopia has been reversed. This is the first step in bringing high and pathological myopia under control. But the measures that have been shown to be useful must be put into practice by governments, their health organizations, and education authorities.