By Por Jia Yee Davina, Optometrist, International Eye Cataract Retina Centre, Singapore

The prevalence of myopia in Singapore is among the highest in the world. Sixty-five percent of Singapore Primary 6 children have myopia. In contrast, just 12% of children of the same age in Australia and about 30% in the United Kingdom are myopic. Myopia prevalence is even higher in older children: 70% of Singapore students leaving secondary school and 80% of Singapore national servicemen have myopia. These figures are worrying and is a major public health concern since severe myopia (defined as more than -6 dioptres of myopia), also called pathological or degenerative myopia, is associated with potentially sight-threatening complications. In fact, in the United States where there are good data, although pathological myopia occurs in about 2% of the population, it is the 7th most common cause of blindness in the country.

Dr Au Eong Kah Guan, Medical Director and Senior Consultant Ophthalmologist in International Eye Cataract Retina Centre at Mount Elizabeth Medical Centre and Farrer Park Medical Centre, gave a update on the eye complications of pathological myopia to practising optometrists and opticians at a Continuing Professional Education (CPE) programme on 3 May 2018 at TK Low Academic Specialist Centre in Farrer Park Hospital. He gave two lectures titled “Lattice Degeneration, Retinal Break and Retinal Detachment” and “Ocular Complications of Pathological Myopia”.

Myopia in children often increase progressively before stabilising in the adult years. The earlier the onset of myopia, the higher the chance of developing pathological myopia as an adult. Pathological myopia is associated with increased eyeball length (axial length) and higher risks of eye complications such as lattice degeneration, retinal hole, retinal tear, retinal detachment, macular hole, macular degeneration, geographic atrophy, choroidal neovascularisation, foveoschisis, cataract and glaucoma.

Dr Au Eong emphasized the importance of regular eye health screenings to pick up such complications at an early stage. Timely treatment leads to better outcomes and reduces the risks of blindness. For children who already have myopia, they should spend more time outdoors, reduce near work such as using hand-held electronic devices, and consider using atropine 0.01% eyedrops once every night to reduce the rate their myopia progression.

The CPE talk was well-received by the attendees and concluded after a question-and-answer session.