Issue: December 2016
December 13, 2016
2 min read

WHO defines myopic macular degeneration in new report

Practitioners already managing myopia should feel vindication in their prevention efforts, the Brien Holden Vision Institute CEO says.

Issue: December 2016
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Measures for detecting and managing myopia should be an integral component of plans for providing eye care services and a part of general care for vision impairment, according to a myopia report released by the World Health Organization.

The recently released report is the result of a joint World Health Organization–Brien Holden Vision Institute meeting from March 2015 at the University of New South Wales in Sydney, Australia.

Scientific and clinical experts in myopia were invited from all six WHO regions for keynote presentations, working groups and plenary sessions to review the evidence on the major issues in myopia. The group agreed that action should be taken to include myopia and high myopia among the attributable causes of vision impairment in the surveys currently used.

The term “myopic macular degeneration” (MMD) should be used clinically and in research to categorize the blinding retinal diseases associated with high myopia, according to the report.

“Currently, WHO blindness surveys group MMD with ‘other causes,’ and so blindness attributable to high myopia is currently not collected,” Monica Jong, PhD, BOptom, senior research fellow, Brien Holden Vision Institute (BHVI) and scientific secretary for the joint meeting, told Primary Care Optometry News.

Monica Jong

The definitions of myopia and high myopia were also recognized as needing standardization, she said. The group reached agreement on a spherical equivalent -0.50 D or worse and -5.00 D or worse for myopia and high myopia.

Kovin Naidoo

Epidemiological data are lacking on the prevalence of myopia, high myopia and vision impairment associated with high myopia in Africa, Central America, South America and Oceania; the experts suggest these areas should be a priority for future research.

“The report should act as a catalyst to drive governments, health agencies and the eye care sector to support development and implementation of the programs and technology necessary to meet this challenge,” Kovin Naidoo, OD, MPH, PhD, FAAO, FCOptom(Hon), BHVI chief executive officer and rapporteur for the meeting, told PCON. “This report is timely in that it can galvanize efforts to prevent the rising prevalence of myopia that is already being seen in East Asia from reaching other regions.”

Jong explained that the establishment of a working group was an important item to follow up on the recommendations contained in the report.

Naidoo added that eye care practitioners already managing myopia should feel vindication and help support those wanting to implement myopia control but have been uncertain. – by Abigail Sutton

Disclosures: Jong and Naidoo are employed by the BHVI. Naidoo is the chairperson for the International Agency for the Prevention of Blindness (Africa).