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Optometrists Warn Of Myopia Epidemic In Australian Children

A study finds that the number of children getting glasses for shortsightedness has almost doubled in recent years, with experts attributing this to excessive screen time and insufficient outdoor activities.

Zeinab Fakih, manager of paediatrics and rehabilitative services at the Australian College of Optometry, revealed that the average age of diagnosis for myopia has decreased from around 12 to eight years old. 

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She told the Sydney Morning Herald that some children are not identified until their eyesight has 

deteriorated to the point of legal blindness without glasses.

“We have a myopia epidemic,” she said. 

Ms Fakih said children diagnosed at a younger age are at higher risk of developing severe shortsightedness, potentially leading to blindness later in life.

The Myopia Clinic at the Australian College of Optometry in Melbourne has witnessed a surge in children seeking help for shortsightedness. 

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This year, more than 18 per cent of children seen at the clinic have been diagnosed with myopia, an increase of 8 per cent since 2021.

Specsavers, a popular eyewear retailer, also reported a rise in myopia cases among children. 

In 2021, 28 per cent of patients under 15 were diagnosed with myopia, compared to 22 per cent in 2016. 

According to The Myopia Clinic, both genetics and environmental influences are contributing factors to myopia.

However, Morgan’s research has found that children who spend more time outdoors are less likely to become myopic, even if their parents are shortsighted.

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