Myopia epidemic among teenagers became a real threat and it spreads fast in worldwide.
Up until now, the most seriously affected areas are in East Asian Countries. Global high tech exporters such as Singapore, China, Taiwan, Hong Kong, Japan, and South Korea found that 80 to 90 percent of their late teens were nearsighted. Especially, the situation in Korea was the worst. Of the 19-year-old men surveyed, 96.5% were nearsighted. Researchers only speculated for the causes of the epidemic from high stress environment to smartphone obsession. Countries like Singapore and China drastically cut down school homework. In South Korea, online game servers are all shut down by 10 PM to the adolescent gamer. Sadly, it didn’t appear to stop soaring rate of childhood myopia. The crisis rapidly spreads over not only in the United States but also across all Western countries. Smartphone apps like Snapchat seem to draw more children than ever to screen.
At present, researchers have predicted that the number of the nearsighted, currently 2 billion, will reach 2.5 billion in 2020, one-third of the world’s population. This is a time that parents need to be actively involved for the sake of future generations.
Childhood myopia is caused by various factors in that genetic, environmental, and nutritional components tend to interact with one another. Parents have to look carefully for all sides of children’s well-being.
If your children have been wearing eye glasses to correct myopia at a young age (kindergarten or elementary school) and you have high degree myopia, the risk of having progressive myopia is very high as they grow up. You have to be more vigilant to protect their vision health. In any case, children can get a great deal of help if you encourage more outdoor activities.
Besides all your consideration to slow down the progression by improving life style for kids, you may have to look into active treatments with your eye specialist. The results of recent studies using low dose atropine eye drops, commonly used to produce pupillary dilation are definitely justified to bring up to your eye doctor.
For all practical purposes, treatment of childhood myopia with atropine eye drop has been known as the most effective therapy in East Asia. Atropine reduces myopia by inhibiting the long axis of eyeball although the exact mechanism is still a mystery. In the past, 1% atropine eye drops were highly discouraged for the treatment except in East Asia because of the high number of discomforts, e.g., glare, pupil dilatation, near vision, and need for multifocal glasses. However, it turns out that you don’t need that much of dose to work with. According to the research that went on over 5 years, the longest term of any previous studies so far, atropine 0.01% eye drops were more effective in slowing myopia progression with less visual side effects compared with higher doses of atropine. Atropine 0.01% eye drops once a day reduce myopia progression by about 50% without clinically significant amounts of pupil dilatation. In Singapore, about 1,000 children have been joined in 0.01% treatment programs since 2014. Further low-dose atropine trials have been organized for children in Japan and the U.K. If the findings hold up, it will definitely be a blessing to children with progressive myopia.
The eye drops are only available through compounding pharmacies with a prescription from eye specialist in U.S.
Please note that the information in this blog is not proposed to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. All content including text, photos, links is for general information purposes only.