Clear vision is a precious asset that many of us take for granted. However, a growing concern in today's world is the increasing prevalence of myopia, commonly known as nearsightedness. Myopia Week aims to raise awareness about this condition, educate individuals about its causes and management, and promote eye health and well-being.
This year, Myopia Week takes place from May 23-28, 2023. As professional optometrists in Calgary, we wanted to educate our patients and readers on what this week is about and how you can take care of your eye health.
Myopia, commonly known as nearsightedness, is a refractive error of the eye. It makes distant objects appear blurry while close objects remain clear. It occurs due to an anatomical or optical abnormality in the eye, leading to improper focusing of light.
Ideally, when light enters the eye, it should focus precisely on the retina, a light-sensitive tissue located at the back of the eye. The retina converts light into a message the brain can understand and sends it to the brain along the optic nerve, enabling us to see clearly.
In myopia, there is a mismatch between the size of the eye and the focusing power of the cornea and the lens inside the eye. This causes light to focus in front of the retina instead of directly on it. The result is blurred vision when looking at distant objects. Eyeglasses or contact lenses are commonly prescribed to correct myopia by compensating for the refractive error and focusing light directly on the retina. The exact cause of myopia is not fully understood, but it is believed to be influenced by both genetic and environmental factors.
Myopia usually develops during childhood or adolescence and may progress gradually over time. Children with myopia often experience difficulties seeing the board at school or recognizing faces from a distance. They may squint or sit closer to the television or computer screen to compensate for their blurred vision.
The Rising Myopia Epidemic
In recent years, myopia has reached alarming levels worldwide, particularly in urban areas with high levels of screen time and limited outdoor activities. According to the World Health Organization (WHO), it is estimated that by 2050, roughly half of the global population will be myopic if the current trend continues unchecked. While myopia itself does not pose a serious threat to eye health, it can increase the risk of other eye conditions such as retinal detachment, glaucoma, and cataracts, especially in high degrees of myopia. Therefore, this surge in myopia cases poses significant risks to individuals' eye health and necessitates immediate attention.
Managing Myopic Progression
Current research has given optometrists a better understanding of the factors that lead to increases in myopia. Eyeglass lens manufacturers and contact lens manufacturers have both used this information to develop lenses that can slow the progression of myopia. Eye doctors can prescribe eyedrops that are used once each day to help slow the progression of myopia. If you are interested in learning about these options, please mention this at your next eye exam.
Apart from these strategies, it’s also a good idea to balance screen time one-for-one with time outdoors. Research has shown that time outdoors decreases the risk of the development and progression of myopia. We are still unsure whether the wide open spaces, or the sunlight itself, or both are needed to reduce the risk of worsening nearsightedness. In our cold, northern climate, the eye doctors at Doig Optometry have been recommending that parents in Calgary get their kids outdoors as much as possible, even in the winter, to help reduce the risk of myopia in their children.
The Key Objectives of Myopia Week
Myopia Week serves as a valuable platform to draw attention to the myopia epidemic and its impact on public health. It brings together eye care professionals, educators, parents, and the community to address this growing concern. The event typically takes place annually, featuring a series of educational initiatives, public seminars, and interactive campaigns aimed at:
- Raising Awareness - Myopia Week aims to inform the public about the causes, risks, and consequences of myopia. By educating individuals about the condition, the initiative strives to foster a proactive approach toward eye health.
- Promoting Early Detection - Timely detection of myopia is crucial for effective management. Myopia Week provides an opportunity for people of all ages to learn about the importance of eye exams and consultations with eye care professionals, enabling early diagnosis and appropriate interventions.
- Advocating Lifestyle Changes - Recognizing the role of lifestyle factors in myopia progression, Myopia Week emphasizes the importance of outdoor activities, reduced screen time, and good visual habits. By encouraging healthier habits, the initiative aims to mitigate the risk of myopia development and progression.
- Encouraging Collaboration - Myopia Week fosters collaboration among eye care professionals, educators, parents, and policymakers. By working together, these stakeholders can develop strategies to address the myopia epidemic comprehensively.
- Supporting Research and Innovation - The initiative aims to support scientific research and technological advancements in myopia management. By promoting innovation, Myopia Week contributes to the development of effective treatments and interventions to combat the condition.
Myopia Week: Shining a Light on Eye Health
As the prevalence of myopia continues to rise globally, it is essential to prioritize eye health and take proactive measures to safeguard our vision. By embracing Myopia Week's objectives, we can collectively work towards reducing the burden of myopia and ensuring a clear and vibrant future for generations to come.
At Doig Optometry, we encourage you to book your next eye exam with one of our Calgary optometrists. Even if you have perfect vision with no symptoms of eye problems, annual comprehensive eye exams are an important part of your eye health. Our eye doctors can help you promote your best visual outcomes. We also provide high-quality eye eyeglasses with a wide selection of fashion frames and quality lenses right here in Calgary.