First study of its kind illustrates myopia prevalence in Canadian children

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A study published in the journal Eye sheds light on the prevalence of myopia in Canadian children, validating findings and implications for healthcare policy makers, academic researchers and educators.

Myopia, also known as nearsightedness, has been on the rise globally over the past several decades, with more severe forms being associated with high economic burden and increased risk for other vision-robbing conditions.

“Myopia is receiving significant attention from the eye health community worldwide, as incidence rates continue to climb among children at a startling pace,” said Mike Yang, OD, the paper’s lead investigator and a clinical associate at CORE. “Our research—the first non-clinical-practice-based epidemiological survey of myopia prevalence in Canada—paints a troubling picture, yet also shows the beneficial impact of outdoor time. We believe it adds meaningful, objective, and actionable knowledge to the research and clinical communities, as more efforts are placed against overcoming this critical and ever-growing problem.”

Findings in Myopia Prevalence in Canadian School Children: a Pilot Study indicated that while the rate of myopia was 6% in children aged 6-8, it soars to 28.9% in children aged 11-13. For one additional hour spent outdoors each week, the odds of being myopic were lowered by 14.3%.

Genetics also play a role: children with at least one myopic parent were 2.52 times more likely to be myopic as well.

This study, the first of its kind in Canada, was conducted by the Centre for Ocular Research & Education (CORE), the University of Waterloo’s School of Optometry & Vision Science and the Canadian National Institute for the Blind.

Eye is the official journal of The Royal College of Ophthalmologists and is part of the esteemed Nature Research publishing group.

“The prevalence of myopia and the shift toward onset at an earlier age highlights the growing need for strategies to slow down its progression,” said Debbie Jones, FCOptom, FAAO, clinical professor at the School of Optometry & Vision Science and clinical scientist at the Centre for Ocular Research & Education. “CORE has played a significant role in clinical studies that have demonstrated the ability to control myopic progression. Patients may benefit from lower levels of myopia than if left unaddressed, likely lowering levels of sight threatening myopic complications.”

The paper notes that larger national studies would be able to provide even more evidence-based recommendations to the general public and healthcare stakeholders.

Myopia Prevalence in Canadian School Children: a Pilot Study can be accessed online at https://www.nature.com/articles/s41433-018-0015-5.epdf.

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