One of the hot topics in eye care over the next few years will be myopia (nearsightedness), a disorder that by 2050, is expected to affect over 50% of the US population. Myopia is a progressive vision disorder in which the eye becomes elongated, focusing light in front of the retina instead of on it. For many decades, the mainstay treatment has been corrective lenses, which treat the symptoms but not the cause. It has been discovered that treating the cause of myopia in children can have a profound effect on myopic progression and future complications that could lead to blindness.

The prevalence of high myopia is on the rise as well, a condition that leads to cataracts, glaucoma, maculopathy, retinal detachment, and blindness. Low myopia can be correctable by lenses; however, the pathological consequences make high myopia a leading cause of diminishing visual acuity and blindness. Early intervention and treating the underlying cause are paramount when myopia presents during the eye’s formative years.

To better understand the trends in myopia and new treatment options on the horizon, Beacon fielded market research with 100 referral HCPs and treaters, and here are some of the results:

  • 62% of patients treated by ophthalmologists need pharmaceutical intervention to slow myopic progression
  • While off-label use of pirenzepine and low-dose atropine are used to treat the cause, HCPs have moved primarily to using 0.01-0.05% atropine drops dosed QD
  • With no FDA-approved treatments for myopia, eye care professionals are hesitant to move their patients onto a treatment that’s not approved in the US and isn’t formulated for optical use in children
  • Pediatricians are one of the first to diagnose myopia, however they do not feel they have a role in treating the disorder and refer their patients to an eye care specialist for corrective lenses, but rarely discuss the underlying cause of the disorder
  • An ophthalmologist should always be involved in treating any form of progressive myopia. Once a child shows progression it is important for an optometrist or other care provider to refer their patients for proper treatment
  • 96% of treating physicians are looking for more US-specific data and an FDA-approved treatment option for progressive myopia

While the jury is out as to why the incidence of myopia has been on the rise since the mid 70’s—almost doubling in the past 45 years—it is thought to be related to a major decrease in outdoor activities and a higher exposure to close-up activities such as reading, and too much time focusing on smartphones, tablets, televisions, computer screens, etc. Recent research suggests delaying the onset of myopia or intervening early may reduce the severity of myopia and translate into equivalent reductions in high myopia.

With many active clinical trials around the globe aiming to gain approval of new medical interventions for progressive myopia, it soon will be one of the larger topics discussed in the ophthalmologic arena.

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