Myopia, a silent epidemic that is gaining ground

France – In France currently about 40% of adult myopics and experts estimate that by 2050, 60% may be infected. The Institute for Medical Education and Prevention (IEMP) is launching a campaign to raise awareness among French people about this still widely misunderstood vision disorder.

The ubiquitous presence of screens and the lack of daylight

“Myopia is a global epidemic. There are 2.5 billion myops in the world and 5 billion by 2050 if nothing is done “, warns Dr. Thierry Bohr, President of the National Union of Ophthalmologists of France. In France, the incidence of myopia was 15% in 1950 and it has now reached 40%. “In certain regions of Asia, 90% of young adults are infected,” Dr. Bohr stressed.

Myopia progresses under the influence of various factors: environmental factors such as ubiquitous presence of screen, long study, close work and lack of daylight are combined with genetic factors: a child’s risk of myopia is multiplied by two if one of his parents is short-sighted. And between 3 and 8 if the parents are both.

However, myopia increases the risk of glaucoma, cataracts or retinal detachment. “We must act quickly to control the epidemic and the ways exist: glasses, contact lenses, eye drops. We can encourage resistance, especially through increased exposure to daylight, ”explains Dr. Bohr.

Ignorance about the disease

An IPSOS survey of 3,601 participants conducted in April 2022 showed that 43% of respondents said they had myopia. But one of the two does not give a good definition of this visual disorder. Symptoms of suspecting myopia, such as a child’s excessive tingling, frequent headaches or eye strain or very short writing, are often ignored by parents. The institute also cites a lack of knowledge of the causes of myopia risk, such as the time devoted to daily reading, low exposure to sunlight, or even heredity.

Only 23% of respondents know that the longer a child spends outside, the lower the risk of myopia. Therefore, they do not know that to avoid being myopic, there must be enough light on the screen to practice an activity, limit the time spent on close-up activities, and spend at least 1 hour outside every day. According to the survey, children aged 3 to 6 spend 3 hours 29 hours per day in front of the screen, 11-13 year olds reach 6 hours 54 and 13-17 year olds reach 7 hours 28.

In addition, the screening is basically perfect. One-third of respondents do not know that myopia needs to be detected as soon as possible, even if two-thirds are aware that it is advisable to consult an ophthalmologist before entering CP.

The survey further notes that information on the risk of myopia complications is still insufficient. 8 out of 10 people in question do not know that before myopia starts, it progresses as fast as it can and it can lead to complications that can lead to blindness. This lack of knowledge is also noticeable in myopias, who have received information about only one-third of the risks associated with the development of myopia. Finally, 9 out of 10 people in question did not know that refractive surgery does not prevent complications related to myopia. Solutions to suppress myopia are still rarely known and 61% of those surveyed feel that there is not much to do to prevent it.

Preventive and preventive measures will be implemented

For Pre Dominic Bremond-Gignac, Head of the Department of Ophthalmology at Necker-Infants Malades University Hospital, “We need to take various measures to prevent pediatric myopia. The first is preventive actions, such as banning the screen, favoring outdoor activities, reducing the time to look around, and going to bed early. There are also potential breaking actions such as glasses with defocusing corrective lenses, defocusing soft contact lenses, or rigid orthokeratology lenses for night wear. Microdose atropine at the rate of one drop per day is very effective, ”he noted.

National Information and Screening Campaign

To make French people aware of this vision disorder, the Institute for Medical Education and Prevention (IEMP) has just launched a national campaign and screened for myopia.

“We have four motives, explains Dr. Bruno Asoli, IEMP Director: Raise awareness about the risks associated with myopia, promote early detection of at-risk patients, encourage regular monitoring of patients with high myopia, organize health professionals, ophthalmologists and pediatricians, promote a better understanding of myopia ” . A website has been put online, which includes a myopia simulator and a questionnaire for parents. Dedicated access reserved for physicians, including thematic files and clinical cases. Also, from November 21 to 25, the first edition of the National Myopia Information and Screening Days will be held. They will allow the French public to benefit from screening tests at one of the partner centers for myopia and at-risk patients. “We are calling for a combination of ophthalmologists and pediatricians these days. They will be able to register on our site and appear on a map, ”said Dr. Asoli. This phenomenon should then be repeated every year.

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