Dr. Michael Nelson, FAAO,
President of Canadian Association of Optometrists
Specialization in eye care has been a popular topic in the past few years, but sometimes seemingly unrelated eye care topics are more closely connected than we think.
Let’s take myopia control and low vision–– could they be the eye care equivalent of six degrees of Kevin Bacon?
Six degrees of Kevin Bacon (star of films Mystic River, A Few Good Men and Footloose) refers to a game in which players identify a connection between him and other actors in less than six steps.
I am not a movie expert but judging by the minification effect in his glasses, I am pretty sure Kevin Bacon is myopic. So, Kevin Bacon’s myopia is no big deal you say? Well, the World Health Organization begs to differ.
Dr. Silvio Mariotti, senior medical officer at the WHO, on preventing blindness globally, recently shared some of the findings of the WHO’s recent World Report on Vision with the Canadian Association of Optometrists.
In 2020, about three in 10 people globally are myopic and this number is increasing. Another significant problem is the number of people with uncorrected myopia.
Even Canada has some populations that struggle to gain access to even basic eye care, including glasses. Of even more concern is the future risk of eye disease and vision loss due to high myopia as an adult. There is an 846 times greater risk of developing myopic macular degeneration (MMD) as an adult if you are a high myope than if you aren’t.
MMD is the seventh leading cause of legal blindness in the United States, but the second in Japan and China.
Low vision due to MMD can result in blind spots in your central vision, but it can also cause glaucoma and retinal detachments. If myopia is increasing among children, in five to six decades the number of individuals with low vision secondary to myopia will also increase.
Consequently, the myopia control options provided today are working to reduce the low vision care needed in the future.
So back to Kevin Bacon.
I don’t know if you are keeping track, but I think the separation goes something like this: Kevin Bacon – Myopia – WHO – CAO – eye disease – MMD – low vision.
Sometimes eye care issues are less separate than we think.
WHO World Report on Vision 2019
Haarman AE et al. The Complications of Myopia: A Review and Meta-Analysis. Investigative Ophthalmology & Visual Science. 2020 Apr 9;61:49
Raju Kaiti., et al. “Myopic Degeneration and it’s Low Vision Management- A Review”. Acta
Scientific Ophthalmology 3.6 (2020): 13-17.