After the Wang report in January 2021 about the rise in Myopia in UK children as a direct result of increased sceen time due to Covid lockdown, we saw many headlines in the UK, but relatively little Government reaction to what was a startling warning. Granted that the DHSC and the Ministers have been (rightly) focused on the Covid crisis. However, the time for action is perhaps upon us.
- BBC: Lockdown screen time sees rise in short-sightedness among children
- GUARDIAN: Covid restrictions and screens linked to myopia in children, study shows
- BMJ: Rise in childhood short-sightedness may be linked to pandemic, suggests Hong Kong study
Is it now time for a UK Government Myopia Strategy to take on the UK myopia epidemic (as part of the global Myopia pandemic of 50% of the world by 2050)?
Is it time to follow China’s lead?
China, with >60% prevalence of myopia in school children, is ahead of Europe with public awareness of myopia. The headlines above show that public awareness is growing in the UK, so let’s make sure that optometry controls the narrative and the reliability of the information they get.
Industry publications in the UK have been addressing the global situation, Optician Magazine’s article from June 2019:
Concerns surrounding children’s screen time use have re-emerged after a two-year-old child in China was diagnosed with severe myopia following excessive mobile phone use.
CLICK HERE to read the full article in Optician magazine
Unusual for China, parents have taken the lead and the Government has reacted
It seems parents in China are educated on the matter, are speaking up and the Chinese Government is listening:
“82% of parents in China want limited screen time to combat myopia” [Taken from the Apple podcast “Your undivided attention”]
“The number 1 reason why they wanted to limit screen time was actually worsening vision, myopia, near sightedness – the number 1 reason, 82% of parents picked this. And by the way, that has made it into the government’s goals for society … 5 years from now we want the myopia rate of children in the coutnry to be this percentage decline from what it is now” Rui Ma
CLICK HERE to listen to the podcast in full
#MyopiaChat | Time for the UK to become proctive and make the UK fight against myopia a goal for society?
It is clear that 3 things need to happen in 2022
- Like in China, parents need to be educated about myopia. A medical condition we still harmlessly call “short sight” in the UK
- Practitioners need to be educated and supported to play an active role on the front line. Time to ask them what they need
- Government needs to be educated and steered by an agenda steered by a societal need, not a commercial opportunity