It’s no secret that for many decades, eyecare professionals (ECPs) have been slow to accept change. In recent years however, ECPs have been accepting change and new challenges much more rapidly. For example, most ECPs understand the hazards of blue light and are responding by offering their patients blue light attenuating lenses. Computer vision syndrome and its associated digital eyestrain is another good example. Most ECPs understand the concept and are discussing the issue with their patients. I believe most ECPs understand the need for sunwear as a medical necessity, still the success rate of this area of practice is taking a slower track.

How will ECPs respond to the increasing occurrence of myopia in this country (and around the world, for that matter)? According to a report in the journal Nature, myopia is reaching epidemic proportions. For example, nearly 90% of the teenagers and young adults in China are nearsighted. In America, the incidence of myopia has doubled in the last 50 years. Possible reasons for this dramatic increase range from genetics to increased close work to a lack of sun exposure.

Whatever the causes may be, the important question is, how will ECPs respond to this epidemic?

Many researchers and ECPs believe that myopia is treatable, and a few eye doctors are beginning to use some techniques. Others are taking a more aggressive approach. For example, Gary Gerber, OD, and Matt Oerding have opened Treehouse Eyes, eye centers for treating myopia with a patent-pending technology, and they plan to expand around the country.

One of the reasons for ECPs’ recent rapid uptake of new concepts and products is the effective public awareness created around them nationally. Informed consumers can take action on what they learn. The Vision Council has a good deal to do with this. Their efforts in getting eye health and vision product information to consumers has been a huge success. Programs such as Think About Your Eyes and eye health messages from large national and international companies are also making their impact. And let’s not forget the most important factor, information about myopia from the ECP.

If we’re going to tackle the myopia problem successfully, ECPs will need effective solutions from industry and a strong, sustained national consumer awareness campaign. Armed with these tools, ECPs will be ready to address this epidemic.

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