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Awareness week warns of impending eye health crisis

16/05/2018By Matthew Woodley
Four major optometric institutions have collaborated to establish a pilot program designed to raise awareness of what they have described as a looming “major public health crisis.”

Myopia Awareness Week, which runs from May 14–18, is the result of a partnership between The Brien Holden Vision Institute (BHVI), Optometry NSW/ACT, the UNSW School of Optometry and Vision Science, and the Centre for Eye Health. Its aims are to raise community awareness of the increasing prevalence of myopia, highlight the role of optometrists in treating the condition, and to encourage optometrists to stay abreast of emerging trends in myopia control and management.


“We need to change how people, parents and children in particular, perceive this condition, especially the potential consequences to vision later in life if early treatment is not received.”
BHVI CEO Kovin Naidoo.

In a statement highlighting the launch of the campaign, BHVI CEO Professor Kovin Naidoo said it was important for people to realise wearing glasses was only treating the symptoms of myopia, rather than curing it.

“We need to change how people, parents and children in particular, perceive this condition, especially the potential consequences to vision later in life if early treatment is not received,” Naidoo said.

“As well as providing appropriate myopia management treatments, eyecare practitioners have a key role in this education process.”

According to the statement, rates of the condition have doubled in recent decades and 36% of Australians will be myopic in 2020, a proportion that will increase to 55% by 2050.

The trend is not unique to Australia, and it’s anticipated that there will also be nearly five billion people with myopia globally by 2050, one billion of which will be in the high myopia category. High myopia is associated with a significantly increased risk of potentially blinding conditions such as glaucoma, retinal detachment, myopic maculopathy and macular degeneration.

While the rollout of this year’s pilot program has been focused on NSW, it is likely to extend to a national campaign in the coming years. More information – including a communications tool-kit, and resources and videos for practitioners – is available on the newly created website.

Managing myopia

Along with participating in Myopia Awareness Week, the BHVI is also running its online Managing Myopia Program again this year. The program, which begins in June, offers 13 CPD points (including two therapeutic points) and takes around six hours to complete.

Registrations can be made here.

Image courtesy: Flickr | woodleywonderworks



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