By Ng Shu Yi, Optometrist, International Eye Cataract Retina Centre, Singapore

The prevalence of myopia has been constantly on the rise for the past few decades. Based on current trends, there may be a further spike in myopia by 2050, to an estimated five billion individuals where one billion of them are high myopes globally. Although genetics is one of the major factors for myopia development, recent studies have shown that education and near work play important roles as well.

Professor Scott Read, Associate Professor and Director of Research in the School of Optometry and Vision Science at the Queensland University of Technology, Brisbane, Australia, was an invited overseas guest speaker at the Singapore Primary Eye Care Symposium (SPECS) 2018 held at One Farrer Hotel on 18-19 July 2018. One of his lectures was on “Near Work and Myopia” where he discussed the relationship between myopia and higher education.

Many studies have shown a link between higher education levels and high myopia. Ocular changes during near work such as accommodation, changes in ocular axial length and changes in the choroid can potentially promote myopia.

Myopic complications are a concern in most developing countries as they can have adverse effects on one’s quality of life and can be inherited. As optometrists are unable to advise patient to stop near work completely, Professor Scott Read advised that individuals should be encouraged to take regular short breaks from near work to reduce its impact on myopia development and progression.