ST. LOUIS—According to an American Optometric Association (AOA) Research & Information Committee (RIC) survey, 69 percent of doctors of optometry report providing myopia management services in their practices and three out of four responding doctors consider myopia to be a disease in need of treatment. Nearly all responding doctors who provide myopia management services (93 percent) are practicing in metropolitan areas and 71 percent of these doctors report working in an independent practice not affiliated with private equity or corporate optometry.

“Myopia management is really a hot, hot topic right now, especially post COVID-19,” said Mamie Chan, OD, AOA RIC chair. “With the world becoming more myopic, the topic is timely and it’s also somewhat of a new area. We’re still learning about it.

“There’s also a question of how much research is out there. So, we wanted to see a wide swath of what doctors of optometry are doing. As a private practitioner, I am sometimes in a bubble. I only see myself and my friends, so it’s good to get a snapshot of what other people are doing and how many people are doing it.”

According to the 2021 Clinical Report: Myopia Management produced by the AOA’s Evidence-based Optometry Committee, the prevalence of myopia jumped in the U.S. among people aged 12 to 54 from 25 percent in 1971-1972 to 41.6 percent between 1999-2004.

Further, prevalence worldwide is projected to be 50 percent by 2050. And in a study published in January 2021 in JAMA Ophthalmology, researchers conclude that home confinement due to COVID-19 appeared to have led to a “significant myopic shift for children aged 6 to 8 years.” Similarly, 87 percent of doctors in the survey report discussing myopia management techniques with parents when the child was between 5 and 8 years of age. The average age was 5.5 years.

Other survey highlights found:
● 73 percent of those surveyed believe an annual progression of 0.5 to 0.75 diopters was warranted before initiating myopia management protocols.

● Refractive error was rated the most important risk factor in warranting myopia management.

● Food and Drug Administration (FDA)-approved soft (contact) lenses was the preferred treatment method.

● 33 percent of myopia management candidates defer treatment with 80 percent of these patients defering treatment due to costs.

Read the full survey here.