Myopia: How to manage the biggest threat to eye health of the 21st century

Man at work

Myopia is on the rise with no signs of slowing – making it the biggest threat to eye health of the 21st century.1 Currently 40% of Americans are myopic.2 And the American Optometric Association predicts that 52% of the world population could be impacted by the disease by the year 2050.3 The good news is that with proactive care, a vision benefits plan and regular eye exams – myopia is manageable.

Through the lens of a myopia patient

Myopia, also known as nearsightedness, is an eye condition where close-up objects appear clear but distant objects appear as blurry. For example, a myopia patient may be able to read a map with ease but have difficulty seeing a road sign.4

Myopia develops when a person’s eye grows too long from front to back. The oblong shape keeps eyes from focusing correctly when light rays enter. In turn, the rays fall short of the retina. Myopia can also be caused by an overly curved cornea. The outcome from either anomaly is blurred vision.5

Seeing the signs: why early detection is key6 

Nearsightedness develops most often in childhood between the ages of 6 and 14. Children have an increased likeliness of developing myopia if their parents are nearsighted.Each parent with myopia triples their child’s risk of developing the same condition. And if both parents are nearsighted, you’re looking at double trouble – a 6x higher risk of myopia being passed on to children genetically.6

Signs of myopia to look out for7

  • Myopia patients frequently complain of headaches, eyestrain and tiredness
  • Children may be seen squinting, blinking, rubbing their eyes, holding objects close to their faces or getting frustrated because they can’t see the TV or a whiteboard at school
  • Adults often have difficulty seeing a movie or driving, especially at night

Myopia numbers continue to rise4

The exact cause of myopia is unknown; however, it is thought to be a mix of genetics and environmental factors. The most recent upswing appears to be driven by close-up activities such as reading and digital screen time.8

With the massive increase in screen time due to the pandemic lifestyle, it is no surprise that nearly 5 billion people are predicted to have myopia by 2050.

Scheduling an annual eye exam

If you want to learn more about myopia correction and control, schedule an eye exam with an EyeMed provider near you.

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  1.  Johnson & Johnson, “Managing Myopia: A Clinical Response to the Growing Epidemic,” December 2020.
  2.  Cleveland Clinic, “Myopia (Nearsightedness),” July 2020.
  3.  American Optometric Association, “Reshaping care: New myopia management guidance released,” January 2021.
  4.  American Academy of Ophthalmology, “Nearsightedness: What is Myopia?” December 2021.
  5.  American Academy of Pediatrics, “Myopia (Nearsightedness) in Children & Teens,” May, 2022.
  6.  All About Vision, “Myopia (nearsightedness): Causes, progression and management,” April 2022.
  7.  Mayo Clinic, “Nearsightedness,” April 2020.
  8. All About Vision, “why myopia progression is a concern,” March 2022.