Expert encourages worldwide efforts against worsening myopia epidemic

Serge Resnikoff
Serge Resnikoff

The incidence of myopia will grow to 50% of the world population, or 5 billion people, by 2050, and 10% will have high myopia if these trends continue, according to Serge Resnikoff, MD, PhD, during the Prevent Blindness Focus on Eye Health National Summit.

“The prevalence of myopia is going to increase very steady in the years to come if nothing changes, and high myopia will increase even more drastically,” Resnikoff said.

Specifically, high myopia is projected to reach 1 billion people by 2050.

Worldwide, one challenge is defining myopia and high myopia, he said.

“High myopia should be -5.00 D, which reflects when you start having significant risk factors,” according to experts at the World Health Organization meeting in Sydney in 2015, he added.

In some economically disadvantaged areas, such as sub-Saharan Africa, a significant impact on avoidable blindness has occurred he said. Meanwhile, in Taiwan, China and Singapore, the number of people with myopia grows.

“This has a very important implication,” he warned.

“High myopia is a risk factor for cataract, glaucoma and retinal diseases like myopic macular degeneration,” he said. “It is not well captured or categorized in epidemiologic surveys because in most surveys, there is not a category about myopic macular degeneration; it is often only categorized as age-related macular degeneration in general.”

Surveys in China and Japan show that the first cause of blindness is myopic macular degeneration, Resnikoff continued.

“Within the myopia epidemic, it’s not solely about providing refractive services; it is also going to have an impact on eye care services in general and particularly on chronic eye conditions,” he said.

The impact on the cost of product care and the need for people to receive low vision services will increase, he added.

“Even the most developed countries need to act; myopia doesn’t discriminate. No community is to be spared,” Resnikoff said.

The first attempt for a global response was the VISION 20/20 global initiative that launched in 1999.

“From the initiative, a number of very positive things happened, particularly in the area of the neglected tropical diseases, vitamin A deficiency and a cataract decline,” Resnikoff said.

He suggests providing appropriate care to everyone.

“[The industry and optometrists] need to provide essential care for all conditions and reduce out-of-pocket costs in low income countries,” he said.

WHO is currently producing a World Report on Vision, which is scheduled to be released in October 2018 for World Sight Day, he said.

“The report will be based on multisectorial production and the need for behavioral changes, as lifestyle plays an important role in eye health,” Resnikoff said. “The report might lead to a global campaign that will be led by WHO.”

Resnikoff believes it is critical to work together.

“It is so refreshing to be in D.C. to work together, and I would love to see more of this in other countries. I really count on the U.S. to be leaders in the myopia epidemic,” he concluded. – by Abigail Sutton

Reference:

Resnikoff S. Global public health crisis: What’s in sight? Presented at: Prevent Blindness Focus on Eye Health National Summit; Washington; June 28, 2017.

Disclosure: Resnikoff is senior advisor at the Brien Holden Vision Institute, former head of the Blindness Prevention Unit at the World Health Organization, a visiting professor at University of New South Wales and a faculty member at the University of Geneva, Switzerland, and the Universities of Lyon and Paris.

Serge Resnikoff
Serge Resnikoff

The incidence of myopia will grow to 50% of the world population, or 5 billion people, by 2050, and 10% will have high myopia if these trends continue, according to Serge Resnikoff, MD, PhD, during the Prevent Blindness Focus on Eye Health National Summit.

“The prevalence of myopia is going to increase very steady in the years to come if nothing changes, and high myopia will increase even more drastically,” Resnikoff said.

Specifically, high myopia is projected to reach 1 billion people by 2050.

Worldwide, one challenge is defining myopia and high myopia, he said.

“High myopia should be -5.00 D, which reflects when you start having significant risk factors,” according to experts at the World Health Organization meeting in Sydney in 2015, he added.

In some economically disadvantaged areas, such as sub-Saharan Africa, a significant impact on avoidable blindness has occurred he said. Meanwhile, in Taiwan, China and Singapore, the number of people with myopia grows.

“This has a very important implication,” he warned.

“High myopia is a risk factor for cataract, glaucoma and retinal diseases like myopic macular degeneration,” he said. “It is not well captured or categorized in epidemiologic surveys because in most surveys, there is not a category about myopic macular degeneration; it is often only categorized as age-related macular degeneration in general.”

Surveys in China and Japan show that the first cause of blindness is myopic macular degeneration, Resnikoff continued.

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“Within the myopia epidemic, it’s not solely about providing refractive services; it is also going to have an impact on eye care services in general and particularly on chronic eye conditions,” he said.

The impact on the cost of product care and the need for people to receive low vision services will increase, he added.

“Even the most developed countries need to act; myopia doesn’t discriminate. No community is to be spared,” Resnikoff said.

The first attempt for a global response was the VISION 20/20 global initiative that launched in 1999.

“From the initiative, a number of very positive things happened, particularly in the area of the neglected tropical diseases, vitamin A deficiency and a cataract decline,” Resnikoff said.

He suggests providing appropriate care to everyone.

“[The industry and optometrists] need to provide essential care for all conditions and reduce out-of-pocket costs in low income countries,” he said.

WHO is currently producing a World Report on Vision, which is scheduled to be released in October 2018 for World Sight Day, he said.

“The report will be based on multisectorial production and the need for behavioral changes, as lifestyle plays an important role in eye health,” Resnikoff said. “The report might lead to a global campaign that will be led by WHO.”

Resnikoff believes it is critical to work together.

“It is so refreshing to be in D.C. to work together, and I would love to see more of this in other countries. I really count on the U.S. to be leaders in the myopia epidemic,” he concluded. – by Abigail Sutton

Reference:

Resnikoff S. Global public health crisis: What’s in sight? Presented at: Prevent Blindness Focus on Eye Health National Summit; Washington; June 28, 2017.

Disclosure: Resnikoff is senior advisor at the Brien Holden Vision Institute, former head of the Blindness Prevention Unit at the World Health Organization, a visiting professor at University of New South Wales and a faculty member at the University of Geneva, Switzerland, and the Universities of Lyon and Paris.