SAN ANTONIO – CooperVision is working with government and regulatory bodies in the U.S. and abroad to improve public health approaches and clinician education through its lobbying efforts and research on juvenile-onset myopia in an effort to fight the worldwide trend of myopia.
Elizabeth Lumb, services head of MiSight 1-Day EMEA and global brand manager at CooperVision, spoke during a roundtable session here at the American Academy of Optometry annual meeting.
In Singapore, myopia is a primary focus and where CooperVision launched its MiSight 1-day contact lenses for juvenile-onset myopia, she said.
A clinical study of the lens is in year 5 of 7.
“The first part of the study is complete and demonstrated some significantly powerful effects in reducing childhood myopia,” Lumb said.
“The trends that we’ve seen across the world mirror what’s happened already in the Far East and Asian countries,” she added. “The numbers are really staggering. We need to – as a company, but also as a profession – really engage in myopia management and what that might mean for the future of the industry and profession.”
The numbers cannot be ignored, she said. “You can’t see a teenager in East Asia who doesn’t have myopia,” she said. “In Western Europe you can’t ignore the numbers either. We are seeing a mirroring effect.”
In the U.K., for example, over the last 60 years, childhood myopia has more than doubled, and children are becoming myopic at a much younger age, she said.
“When I was in my undergraduate days, myopia was just a condition you could fix with glasses or contact lenses, but that’s completely different now,” Lumb said. “We need to catch the profession up in what that means for future eye health later in life.”
In Japan, the myopia population makes up about 85.5% in those 10 to 19 years old, Stella Lee, OD, CooperVision’s director of professional services-APAC, said.
A key difference between how Asian markets and the U.S. handle myopia is that the spotlight on myopia is being explored by Asian government and regulatory officials, Lumb said. In China, children are limited in how much time they can spend gaming.
“The public health approach in those different markets can be polar opposites,” Lumb said.
“In Europe, we are working very hard to try to understand how we can influence those government bodies to take this more seriously,” she said. “We don’t want to be in a position where nine out of 10 are faced with a future of myopia. We want to have an earlier influence.”
A main goal of CooperVision is to lobby governments and regulatory bodies to try to stem the flow of myopia and reduce the impact on those children in the future, she said.
“We’ve tried historically as an industry to encourage practitioners to fit contact lenses in children to improve quality of life,” Lumb said. “That’s one problem – practitioners have had less of a reason to fit contact lenses and have not embraced fitting young children ... they think it’s harder than it is.”
She said there is now a genuine reason to do so.
“But I think we have to be careful how we position contact lenses in children to consumers,” she added. “We don’t want to scare or guilt trip parents into it.”
Canada has had success centered around educating eye care providers to help them communicate that reason to the parents in a way they can understand, she said.
“We are learning from other countries on how we can adopt this more broadly,” she said. – by Abigail Sutton
Disclosures: Stella and Lumb are employed by CooperVision.