THE MYOPIA EPIDEMIC!
Myopia is becoming an increasing concern for China as cases are rising exponentially in hong-kong. 80% of their kids have Myopia after completing 12 years of school. China tried and was successful at a low level to control Myopia through eye exercises, but it didn’t help as cases kept on increasing, and it has now been classified as an Epidemic.
Reports suggest that China is looking for major reforms in the educational sector so that the pressure isn’t applied much in the eyes. The main factor contributing to Myopia in kids was the tight-packed schedule. Myopia can be controlled by loosening some time constraints, and at least fewer new cases will be reported.
Researchers have provided a broad overview of eye diseases in Asia. There is indisputable evidence of an epidemic of Myopia and High Myopia in parts of East and Southeast Asia, including mainland Hong Kong, China, Macau, Chinese Taipei (commonly called Taiwan), South Korea, Japan, and Singapore. Around 80% of students completing schooling are myopic. Furthermore, 10% to 20% of them are highly myopic and are at high risk of developing blinding pathological Myopia.
What is Myopia?
Normally, the eyes are able to focus on an image sharply. However, in nearsightedness (Myopia), the focus point is in front of the retina, making distant objects appear blurry. Myopia is a common eye condition in which patients can see near objects clearly, but objects farther away are blurry.
There is little to no Myopia among children who get no schooling. Still, as more children get more education, the prevalence of Myopia after 12 years of schooling increases to 20%, a figure normal for typical western school systems. Children who receive more schooling tend to be more myopic within a school system. Higher-achieving children tend to be more myopic at a given level of schooling, as do children following more academic streams or classes.
A causal role has been confirmed with Mendelian randomization analysis and regression-discontinuity analysis, but a randomized clinical trial would be unethical in this area. The exponential increase in the cases of Myopia during schooling is due to increased exposure to risk factors experienced by school students rather than normal causes like increasing age.
Children who spend more time outdoors for co-curricular or sports are protected from the onset of Myopia. The postulated mechanism has been confirmed in studies of experimental Myopia in animals. In addition, there is some evidence that it also applies to humans. Increased outdoors time can slow the onset of Myopia. It has been demonstrated in RCTs and system-wide implementation. Whether it also affects the progression of Myopia is currently unclear.
Increased Use of Digital Devices
A common question is whether digital devices have created an epidemic of Myopia. However, the Internet only became Publically accessible in 1993, and computer smartphones were not available until 2008-2010. Moreover, since the number of average cases of Myopia was already high for young adults in the 1980s in Hong Kong, Taiwan, and Singapore, and by the 1990 s in mainland China, these devices could not have played a major role in the onset of the epidemic. India is headed in a similar direction. Urban areas are showing a trend towards higher incidence of myopia.
Also Read: Causes, Treatment and Stages of Keratoconus
The Challenges faced in Myopia Prevention and Control
The characteristic features of an epidemic of Myopia define three key challenges:
- Reducing the prevalence of Myopia.
- Developing quality and effective school screening and prompt referral for optical correction and myopia control.
- Slowing the progression to limit the development of pathological Myopia.