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Myopia: A 21st Century Epidemic for Aussie Children

Myopia Canberra

Have you noticed the increasing number of children being diagnosed with nearsightedness today? Recent studies indicate that up to one-third of Australian children are now affected by myopia, a significant increase from past generations. This rise is commonly attributed to both genetic factors and modern environmental influences.

I am Juliet Menakaya, the dedicated owner and principal optometrist at Junic Eye Care, based in Canberra. Our clinic welcomes patients of all ages, but we hold a special place for pediatric optometry. With my extensive qualifications in children’s eye health, I’m driven by a passion to ensure our youngest patients not only achieve optimal vision but also maintain a solid foundation for eye health as they grow.

The surge in myopia, or nearsightedness, is evolving into a significant public health issue. Myopia develops when the eyeball elongates, causing light to focus incorrectly in front of the retina rather than directly on it, leading to blurred distance vision.

To safeguard your family’s vision and learn more about managing myopia, I invite you to visit us at Junic Eye Care. Experience the difference compassionate, expert care can make in ensuring your child’s vision is clear and healthy for years to come.

To learn more about myopia and strategies for controlling its progression, keep reading.


Myopia as a Growing Global Concern

Where do we stand in the global fight against myopia? According to the latest research and statistics, the rapid rise of myopia worldwide is undeniable.

  • Globally: Currently, approximately 30% of the world’s population is myopic, with projections suggesting this will rise to almost 50% (around 5 billion people) by 2050. The prevalence of myopia is notably high in East and Southeast Asia, with countries like South Korea, Taiwan, Singapore, China, and Japan reporting rates between 80 to 90%.
  • Australia: Locally, the situation mirrors the global trend, with a significant portion of the population, especially children and young adults, experiencing nearsightedness. A 2022 study found that a myopia rate of 28.8% in Australian patients. Comparing these rates to global statistics, Australia is not an outlier; rather, it’s a reflection of a worldwide epidemic that crosses geographical and cultural boundaries.

Watch the following video to understand more about what causes myopia.

Long Term Eye Health Risks

People with advanced myopia are at an increased risk for several eye conditions that can impact their vision later in life. It’s crucial for individuals with high myopia to be aware of these risks and seek regular eye examinations to monitor their eye health.

  • Cataracts: Individuals with severe myopia have a heightened likelihood of developing cataracts, where the eye’s lens becomes opaque, leading to blurred vision. Early detection and treatment can restore vision, often through surgical lens replacement.
  • Glaucoma: Those with advanced myopia face a greater risk of glaucoma, characterized by damage to the optic nerve, often associated with increased pressure inside the eye. Glaucoma can lead to vision loss, making regular screenings essential for early intervention.
  • Retinal Detachment: High myopia significantly increases the risk of retinal detachment, a serious condition where the retina separates from its underlying support tissue. Symptoms can include a sudden appearance of floaters and flashes, requiring immediate medical attention to prevent lasting damage.
  • Macular Degeneration: Myopic macular degeneration, occurring in individuals with high myopia, affects the central portion of the retina, leading to loss of central vision. This condition underscores the importance of regular eye exams to detect early changes in the macula.

Understanding the potential eye conditions associated with advanced myopia is essential for proactive eye care. Individuals with high myopia should maintain regular appointments with their optometrist to monitor for these conditions, ensuring timely treatment to preserve vision.


Myopia Early Warning Signs

Detecting early signs of myopia in children can lead to timely intervention, improving their quality of life and educational performance. Parents and guardians play a crucial role in observing these early warning signs, as children might not always communicate their vision difficulties.

  • Frequent Squinting: When a child often squints while looking at distant objects, it suggests they are struggling to see clearly. Squinting temporarily improves their focus by narrowing the eye’s aperture, which indicates difficulties with distance vision.
  • Close Proximity to Screens: If your child consistently sits too close to the television or holds digital devices closer to their eyes than seems normal, it’s a sign they’re compensating for blurred distance vision. This behavior is a classic indicator of myopia, as nearer objects appear clearer to them.
  • Regular Eye Rubbing: Excessive rubbing of the eyes is a common sign of eye strain or fatigue. It can indicate that your child’s eyes are under stress from attempting to focus on distant visuals, signaling potential myopia.
  • Headache Complaints: Children with myopia often complain about headaches, a direct result of eyestrain from overexerting the eyes’ focusing muscles. These headaches typically occur after prolonged reading, screen time, or focusing on distant objects.
  • Decline in Academic Performance: A noticeable drop in school performance, especially in activities involving visual tasks like reading from the board, may suggest vision issues. Myopia can make it difficult for children to engage fully in classroom activities and learn effectively.

Recognizing these signs early can lead to prompt corrective measures, which can significantly improve your child’s daily life and academic success. It is essential to schedule regular eye examinations for your child to ensure any vision problems are detected and managed effectively.

Environmental Factors and Lifestyle Choices

In the last couple of decades, smartphones, tablets, and increased screen time have become integral parts of our lives. And the link between our modern lifestyle and the rising rates of myopia has becomes clearer. It’s as if our eyes are telling us they weren’t designed for this digital gluttony.

Think of it like a diet: Just as our bodies crave a variety of nutrients, our eyes also need a diverse range of visual experiences. Spending hours focused on screens just inches away is like feeding our eyes a steady diet of fast food—convenient yet ultimately harmful.

On the flip side, outdoor activities offer a balanced diet for our eyes. Natural light and the depth and breadth of landscapes provide the visual stimulation our eyes need. Studies show that time spent outdoors can significantly reduce the risk of developing myopia.

It’s a balance, however, not a banishment of technology. Just as we balance our diet for physical health, finding a harmony between screen time and green time is key for our visual well-being.


Myopia Control and Prevention Strategies

Myopia can significantly alter a child’s experience in the classroom and on the sports field, places where clear vision is crucial. Imagine trying to learn or play when the world beyond your arm’s reach is a blur. Squinting to see the front of the classroom creates barriers to learning and engaging in physical activities that can shape a child’s self-esteem and health.

How can we shield our children from the increasing prevalence of myopia? The latest advancements in myopia control offer hope and tangible benefits for our young patients and their families.

Atropine eye drops have revolutionized our approach to slowing down myopia’s progression. These drops, used nightly in low doses, act like a soft pause on the rapid development of myopia in children. It’s a straightforward, non-invasive method that has shown promising results in clinical studies, making it a popular choice among parents and optometrists alike.

Myopia control glasses are another pivotal development in our fight against childhood myopia. Among the options available, Hoya Lenses and Stellest Lenses stand out for their innovative design and effectiveness. While Hoya Lenses are well-regarded, we prescribe Stellest Lenses more frequently in our practice. The reason? Stellest Lenses have demonstrated exceptional efficacy in controlling myopia progression. They’re designed not just to correct vision but to actively slow down the elongation of the eye that contributes to myopia. This dual action makes them a preferred choice for many of our patients.

For parents looking to manage their child’s myopia risk, incorporating these advanced solutions with simple lifestyle adjustments can make a significant difference. Encouraging outdoor activities, reducing prolonged screen time, and scheduling regular eye exams are practical steps that complement these treatments. Together, they form a comprehensive approach to myopia control that can help protect our children’s vision.



Myopia is now regarded as a public health issue amongst children and I do not take its management lightly. Parents are still trying to understand what the whole fuss is all about. An important part of my myopia management is helping the child’s parents to understand the progressive nature of their child’s myopia and the different options available to them.

When equipped with the right appropriate information, making decisions about myopia control options becomes easier for the parents.

But ignoring early signs of myopia can lead to a lifetime dependency on corrective eyewear and potential vision loss for the child.

Empower your loved one with the gift of clear vision. Don’t wait any longer to book an eye care appointment with us!

To visit our optometry practice, click the “Book Online” button at the top of the page or call (02) 6152 8585 today.

You’ll find our clinic conveniently located in the Molonglo Health Hub, just a short 10 minute drive from central Canberra, with plenty of free parking when you get here.

Author: Juliet Menakaya, O.D MPH

CANBERRA OPTOMETRIST Juliet obtained her Doctor of Optometry degree from the University of Benin, Nigeria in 2006. She completed an internship programme before migrating to Australia, where she completed a master’s degree in public health at the University of Sydney in 2014. Following this, Juliet obtained a Master of Orthoptics from the University of Technology Sydney (UTS) in 2017. Juliet has completed her competency in optometry examination with OCANZ (Optometry Council of Australia and New Zealand), and obtained her ophthalmic prescribing rights from ACO (Australian College Of Optometry Victoria). Juliet has worked in various positions, including retail Optometry, the Ophthalmology Department at Canberra Hospital, and more recently, at the John Curtin School of Medical Research (ANU). As a dedicated Canberra optometrist, Juliet is passionate about helping people with low vision, and binocular vision anomalies hence her interests in Low Vision Rehabilitation, Eccentric Viewing Training and Paediatric optometry.