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EyeCon 2023: Tackling the issue of myopia management

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Mark Bullimore, MCOptom, PhD, FAAO, discussed myopia control in a panel at EyeCon 2023, highlighting evidence-based treatments, myopia's impact on visual impairment, and a multidisciplinary conversation involving optometrists and ophthalmologists to address the growing issue of myopia management.

Mark Bullimore, MCOptom, PhD, FAAO, discussed myopia control in a panel at EyeCon 2023, highlighting evidence-based treatments, myopia's impact on visual impairment, and a multidisciplinary conversation involving optometrists and ophthalmologists to address the growing myopia issue. He sat down with Sheryl Stevenson, group editorial director - eye care, to provide this recap of the panel discussion.

Video Transcript

Editor's note - This transcript has been edited for clarity.

Mark Bullimore, MCOptom, PhD, FAAO: It's great to be here! My name is Mark Bullimore. I'm affiliated with the University of Houston, College of Optometry, but I live in Boulder, Colorado and spend most of my time working with companies large and small, a number of whom have an interest in myopia.

So I was part of a panel of speakers in Sanibel, Dr. Deborah Jones [FCOptom, FAAO, FBCLA] from the University of Waterloo, and Dr. Katherine Weise [OD, MBA, FAAO] from the University of Alabama at Birmingham. And we presented on a number of topics, including, in no particular order, the treatment options available for controlling myopia and also delaying its onset. We relied heavily on evidence-based literature for that.

We talked also about the role that myopia plays in uncorrectable visual impairment and a little sound bite is that in the US, myopia is actually responsible for around about a quarter to a third of uncorrectable visual impairment. So something that perhaps we haven't been aware of until recently.

And then we talked about some clinical-based issues. For example, when you should start myopia control; when you should finish myopia control; and what potentially are the best options given that we have a range of things available. Our resounding answer was the one that the child will use because like any therapy if you don't have compliance you're not going to get good results. So that's where we get to be the doctor and match the range of options we have available to the lifestyle of the child and perhaps the preferences and experiences of the parents.

Sheryl Stevenson: Can you talk a little bit about the multidisciplinary approach? Obviously, we had optometrists and ophthalmologists in the room together talking about their approaches. What are your thoughts?

Bullimore: Well, I think everybody has a role to play. There are a lot of pediatric ophthalmologists that are probably a little overwhelmed and the last thing they might want is hundreds of myopia patients in their practice when they've also got squint [strabismus] patients and congenital diseases, hereditary conditions, retinoblastoma, and retinopathy of prematurity to deal with.

Obviously, a large portion of the pediatric eye care in the US is carried out by optometrists and fortunately with a broad scope so both ophthalmology and optometry have the ability to manage these patients. Now, each discipline may have preferences and ophthalmology may have a little bit of an aversion to put a child into contact lenses, particularly one that they would sleep in, and that's fine, and they may lean more towards pharmaceutical approaches. Optometrists tend to probably start with optical approaches and add pharmaceutical as a secondary combined approach.

But lots for everybody to do. And we all need to be in this together if we're going to actually tackle this myopia problem in the way that we should.

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