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The Rising Prevalence of Myopia in Europe: Understanding the Causes and Shaping Our Future

You may have heard of myopia, also known as nearsightedness, a common vision problem affecting millions worldwide. But did you know that Europe has been witnessing a concerning increase in myopia cases? This article aims to shed light on myopia, its impact on Europe, potential causes, and what we can do to address this growing issue.

Understanding Myopia

Myopia is a condition where distant objects appear blurry, while nearby objects remain clear. This happens when the eyeball is slightly longer than usual or when the cornea's curvature is too steep, causing light rays to focus in front of the retina instead of on it.

Myopia Trends in Europe

Over the past few decades, Europe has experienced a notable rise in myopia cases. Countries in Northern and Western Europe, like Germany, the United Kingdom, and the Netherlands, have reported higher rates of myopia compared to Southern and Eastern European nations. It seems urban areas and younger age groups are more affected.

Causes of Rising Myopia Rates

Several factors contribute to the increasing prevalence of myopia in Europe:

  • Lifestyle Changes: Modern urban living has reduced outdoor activities, while increased screen time for children and young adults plays a role in myopia development.

  • Genetic Influence: If one or both parents have myopia, their children are more likely to be at risk.

  • Environmental Factors: Spending excessive time indoors and insufficient exposure to natural light may contribute to myopia.

  • Educational Pressure: Demanding study schedules and prolonged screen usage for education might be linked to higher myopia rates.

Implications for the Economy and Healthcare:

The rise of myopia brings challenges to both the European economy and healthcare.

  • Economic Impact: More individuals with myopia may experience reduced productivity at work, needing more corrective eyewear.

  • Healthcare Burden: The growing number of myopia cases puts pressure on healthcare systems, leading to higher demand for eye care services, glasses, and contact lenses.

  • Long-term Costs: Myopia is linked to eye conditions like cataracts, glaucoma, and retinal detachment, leading to increased healthcare expenses.

Shaping Our Future: Addressing the growing myopia rates in Europe calls for a united effort

  • Public Awareness: Educating people about myopia, its causes, and the importance of regular eye check-ups is crucial for early detection and intervention.

  • Lifestyle Changes: Encouraging outdoor activities and limiting screen time, especially for children and teens, can help prevent myopia development.

  • Research and Innovation: On-going research into genetic and environmental factors contributing to myopia will aid in developing effective prevention and treatment strategies.

  • Collaboration: Governments, healthcare professionals, educators, and communities must work together to implement impactful policies and initiatives to address this public health concern.

The World Report on Vision, published by the World Health Organization (WHO) in 2019, highlights that myopia is becoming a global concern [1]. According to their study, in 2020, approximately 2620 million people worldwide had myopia, projected to reach 3361 million by 2030. The report also warns of a significant increase in individuals with high myopia, from 399 million in 2020 to 516 million by 2030.

These predictions underscore the urgency of addressing myopia's impact on society. By acting now, we can shape a future where myopia is no longer a leading cause of vision impairment and blindness. Through collaboration, awareness, and lifestyle adjustments, we can safeguard the eye health and well-being of future generations in Europe and beyond.

About author

Kiran Pannu-Dhillon, a valuable contributor at Myopia Focus is an ambitious optometrist with over ten years of experience in her profession and is passionate about eyecare and the various myopia management strategies out there. She currently works at Maverick & Wolf as an optometrist where she is dedicated to offering her patients the best possible care.

If you're a parent whose child has been diagnosed with myopia or if they are struggling with their distance vision, we hope you found MyopiaFocus helpful. Please join our community or sign our petition to get the government and NHS to recognise myopia as an ocular disease/severe ocular condition and fund myopia management for children.

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