Eyecare professionals have been warning about the alarming increase in the incidence of myopia worldwide for years. A recent International Myopia Institute white paper, published in the Investigative Ophthalmology and Visual Science journal, notes that in 2020, the world incidence of myopia was 30 percent, and that number is expected to rise to 50 percent by 2050. The paper notes that with the increase comes a disproportionate expansion in high myopia. And with that escalation comes an upward trend for high-myopia related complications such as myopic macular degeneration and retinal detachment, among others. This progression comes at a cost, not only to vision but also to health care expenditures, productivity and quality of life.
According to the paper, myopia is currently detected in children before they are 10 years of age. If uncorrected or undetected, myopia has an impact on children’s learning, attention and psychosocial well-being at a young age, progressing into adulthood. The risks for myopic retinopathy, cataract, glaucoma and other conditions affecting the posterior segment of the eye are higher for aging myopes.
The Medical Expenditure Panel Survey estimated the annual direct cost for vision care for myopic children over 12 years of age in 2000 was $226.48, excluding surgical treatments. In addition, there are costs for caregiver time, travel, absenteeism from educational activities, reduced productivity and reduced quality of life, all of which increase with the age-related impact of lifelong myopia. Annual direct costs of myopia (including examinations, spectacles and lenses, LASIK, care for complications such as cataracts, retinopathy and glaucoma) were estimated to be $358.7 billion in 2019 and projected to rise to $870 billion in 2050. Costs related to spectacles and lenses are set to double, and costs related to cataract care and myopic retinopathy are estimated to quadruple. The price of lost productivity due to vision impairment was estimated at $244 billion from uncorrected myopia and $6 billion from myopic macular degeneration in 2015. These estimates do not include children under 15 years of age. Other studies project productivity loss to increase from $94.5 billion in 2019 to $229.3 billion in 2050.
The hope for a better vision future is in the research and evolving treatments and therapies. Remember that myopia starts in children, so early intervention is key. Learn more with our CE, “What’s Up with Myopia?” at 2020mag.com/ce.
• Linda Conlin
Pro to Pro Managing Editor