In September I was fortunate enough to attend the International Myopia Congress, held in Tokyo (just ahead of the Rugby World Cup). Myopia, or short-sightedness, means vision close range is clear but things further away (TV, the board at school, road signs) are blurred.
As global rates of myopia increase rapidly, particularly in South East Asian countries, there are concerns about the long term impact this will have on future eye disease (risk of retinal detachment, macular degeneration and glaucoma increase with myopia).
The four day congress brought together researchers, academics and clinicians from all around the world and sessions were presented by authors of clinical and scientific research.
The community is trying is understand what causes myopia. This effort included studies into genetics as well as animal research. Other projects look at epidemiology, trying to figure out who is effected and identify environmental factors which may play a role. So far we know the importance of two hours per day time spent outdoors will delay the onset of myopia in children.
One day was dedicated to studies following intervention strategies, such as ortho-K contact lenses, and soft contact lens designs.
Rising rates of myopia have been described as an epidemic, and resulted in some large scale public health initiatives in Taiwan and Singapore. It was inspiring to hear from individuals who had played vital roles in pushing these program’s ahead.
800 delegates attended in Tokyo. The next congress will be in Rotterdam in 2021.