New and evolving myopia interventions, such as orthokeratology (OK), are becoming vital management options for optometrists to harness within their practice.
Dr Downie says it is vital for optometrists to pursue continuing professional development opportunities in myopia management
Myopia is one of the most common eye conditions treated by optometrists, and it is estimated that by 2050 half of the world’s population will be myopic1. Dr Laura Downie, senior lecturer at the University of Melbourne, says this rise is concerning but advances in technology are having a big impact on the field of myopia management.
“Myopia in itself can often be corrected with glasses or contact lenses but what is particularly concerning about myopia is its association with sight-threatening eye diseases – particularly with higher degrees of myopia,” she said.
“We are seeing a rapid rise in research to evaluate the efficacy and safety of interventions for slowing the progression of myopia – especially in children.”
OK is a new intervention that requires specialised rigid contact lenses been worn overnight so as to remodel the corneal anterior surface of the eye.
“A person wears specially fitted contact lenses while they sleep. In the morning, they take those lenses off and, with consistent nights of lens wear, the effect gradually builds up; the aim is for them to achieve clear, unaided vision throughout the day,” said Dr Downie.
Dr Downie says continued research interest and investment into the utility of OK for modulating myopia progression reflects the promise of the intervention.
“There is emerging evidence that this modality not only corrects short-sightedness but may also slow down the rate of myopia progression – particularly in children, who are most at risk of having changes in their prescription.”
Myopia management in children is also an important area of change with research suggesting outdoor activity can have a protective effect against the development of myopia.
“It’s less clear whether that’s helpful once you’re already short-sighted, in terms of slowing the progression, but certainly a couple of hours a day outside when kids are young and not yet short-sighted can potentially delay or reduce the risk of them becoming short-sighted,” said Dr Downie.
Dr Downie says it is vital for optometrists to pursue continuing professional development opportunities in myopia management as “The field is rapidly evolving – every year there is important research that needs to be factored into practice.”
Her lab focuses on implementation science through synthesising evidence and creating clinical tools for clinicians. Such an approach provides students with access to the latest evidence base, ensuring their confidence in the field.