Humans are becoming increasingly shortsighted. That's not a knock against society's growing Now Generation but a statement of fact: Myopia is on the increase, and we're not sure why.
Currently, myopia affects nearly 41% of the U.S. population, and it's even more pronounced elsewhere—South Korea, for instance, saw a myopic spike in 20-year-olds from 18 to 95% in the past 50 years. That's cause for concern, especially as myopia typically develops first in school-age children.
It's no surprise, then, that parents are searching for answers. A recent CNN article illustrated the plight, titled, "Parents opt for unapproved treatments instead of glasses for their children," and in which parents detail their experiences with nightly wear, orthokeratology (Ortho-K) or even atropine drops.
Myopia is really turning heads, and not just those of parents. So, too, are community eye doctors, academics, manufacturers and public health experts, comprising the greater eye care community, putting their noggins together to better understand the precipitators of this refractive error.
"(Myopia) seems to be increasing too fast to be explained by genetics," CNN quoted Jeffrey J. Walline, O.D., Ph.D., AOA Contact Lens and Cornea Section past chair, as saying.
"Nobody really knows why the prevalence of myopia is on the rise."
As Americans grow older, the eyes show their age, too. The lens loses elasticity, causing a slow decline of accommodation. And patients, in a sense blindsided by this natural sign of aging, head to their doctor of optometry to help preserve their quality of life at work, home and play. Doctors of optometry are in a unique position to help patients preserve their quality of life and independence as presbyopia advances. Fortunately for patients and doctors, there have never been more options for managing presbyopia.
The American Diabetes Association® (ADA) reported, in time for National Diabetes Month in November, that total annual costs of diabetes in 2022 was $412.9 billion, most of it in direct medical costs. How can doctors of optometry help in the fight to lower the prevalence of diabetes?