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SAN FRANCISCO—A recently announced initiative from the American Academy of Ophthalmology to protect children from the vision-threatening consequences of high myopia (nearsightedness) has attracted major financial support from CooperVision. The company will make a five-year commitment to help underwrite the program, part of its global leadership in developing evidence-based clinical and educational approaches that advance myopia management as standard of care. The Academy-guided endeavor seeks to raise awareness of the increasing number of children at risk of developing high myopia and the effectiveness of new interventions to slow this common eye condition, so the worst consequences may be avoided. High myopia raises the risk of vision-threatening eye conditions such as retinal detachment, glaucoma, early cataracts and myopic maculopathy, a leading cause of blindness worldwide, according to the announcement.

Genetics and environmental factors play key roles in myopia. But increasing prevalence appears to be driven by environmental factors, including less time outdoors. More time spent on near-work activities such as digital screen viewing may also play a role.

Richard L. Abbott, MD, and Donald Tan, MD, led the Academy’s Myopia Task Force alongside recognized experts in myopia prevention and treatment, public health experts, and representatives from the American Academy of Family Physicians, the American Academy of Optometry, and the American Academy of Pediatrics. The resulting action plan is focused on education, research, public health and advocacy. Its components are designed to reach the health care community, policy makers, and the public about the challenges created by myopia progression, the value of outdoor time and early diagnosis.

“For more than a decade, CooperVision has been at the forefront of taking on myopia progression,” Rajeev Garg, PhD, global head myopia management strategy for CooperVision, said in the announcement. “We know that no single organization, treatment or category of health care professionals can effectively address its impact on children worldwide. Collaboration is the answer.”

Garg added, “By partnering with the American Academy of Ophthalmology on this new initiative, we’ll be able to reach a broader spectrum of clinicians, officials and parents who play an essential role in improving the vision, long-term ocular health and overall lives of children.”

Dr. Abbott also noted that “children need us to act now—there’s no time to waste.”

“Those who progress to become high myopes have a 50 percent greater risk of glaucoma, are 17 percent more likely to need cataract surgery, and have a six times greater risk of retinal detachment and retinal tears,” he said. “CooperVision’s support will assist our work with public health officials, pediatricians, researchers, and others to reduce myopia’s incidence rate, promote evidence-based interventions and slow progression. We are enthusiastic about their cooperation and deep dedication to the issue.”

CooperVision offers a range of myopia management approaches for the global ophthalmology and optometry communities. MiSight 1 day myopia control soft contact lenses are the first FDA approved product proven to slow myopia progression in children aged 8-12 at the initiation of treatment, and serve as the foundation for the company’s comprehensive Brilliant Futures Myopia Management Program.