September 15, 2021
By Rebecca Weng, BOptom (Hons), Grad Dip(I&T), MBA; Programs and Partnership Liaison Director, Myopia Program Facilitator, and Project Manager Brien Holden Vision Institute
Awareness of myopia and the available treatments begins even before you see the patient. We all need to prompt patients and parents to seek information on myopia and its risks to children’s eyesight.
We are all well acquainted with Holden et al.’s (2015) seminal paper on the global prevalence of myopia. With an estimated 50% of the world’s population set to be affected by the condition by the year 2050, you are likely to see more myopes walking into your practice with increasing degrees of severity. Recent studies confirm this trend:
- Exhibit A: The prevalence of myopia observed in Hong Kongese home-confined children has increased three-fold in 2020 compared to the five years prior.
- Exhibit B: Late sleepers are a highly susceptible group for both myopia onset and progression; our “always on” culture is fraught with social and physical risks.
As people begin returning to some levels of normality and leave their homes more often, eye care practitioners are responsible for promoting, educating, and treating myopia.
What Can You Do to Build Awareness?
Awareness of myopia and the available treatments begins even before you see the patient. We all need to prompt patients and parents to seek information on myopia and its risks to children’s eyesight. This starts with your activities online, in your community, and within your practice.
A good website is a worthwhile investment. Most parents will turn to Google or other internet search engines for myopia information. They’ll also be looking for eye care practitioners who rank high on the convenience factor (location, availability at specific times of day, family-friendly practice, etc.). Populate online bookings with references to myopia information. Add qualification questions to identify at-risk patients (e.g., the patient’s age or the patient’s parental status are good starting points). Include myopia information for identified myopic-relevant patients in booking confirmations. A range of promotional activities can be implemented online to educate and signal expertise in myopia management.
Promote on your storefront – utilize posters, pamphlets, and digital screens. Consider including messages and promotions within community newsletters and other mass-distributed materials.
Knowledgeable frontline staff is the key to instilling confidence in potential patients and presenting a professional image. Encourage staff to discuss myopia risks with parents. Equip them with the ability to answer questions about myopia management via email, on the phone, and in person. BHVI’s Myopia Management for Practice Staff course helps integrate myopia management into your practice by giving staff critical guidance across myopia understanding, including communication with children and parents, myopia management strategies, and business activities for growing your myopia management practice.
Within your own social networks, begin to discuss the problem in the public domain. Myopia is a health risk, and half the world’s population is likely to be impacted. Offer to check in on your friends and their children’s eyesight. Inquire into how children have adjusted to coming in and out of isolation and lockdown – make it a topic of conversation. Create advocates and influencers within your social circles by doing what you do best – caring for your community’s health and providing them with essential information to make healthier vision decisions.
Myopia management is a business asset, and we should think of it as one. Check out BHVI’s Course 3 of the Myopia Education Program – The Business of Myopia – for guidance in building, promoting, and nurturing practice growth as a specialist in myopia management.
How Do You Educate Your Community?
Effective communication is crucial to halting myopia progression. This involves informing parents and patients of the risks and solutions, promoting healthy vision decisions, and helping patients to manage their myopia with a considered and robust myopia management strategy. This means having the facts on hand to educate about myopia risks inside and outside the practice and having detailed, simple, effective, and actionable communication strategies. These enable patients to make informed decisions.
Course 1 of BHVI’s Myopia Education Program – Managing Myopia – takes you through the essential talking points required for the patient, parent, and practitioner to understand the importance of myopia management and the threat myopia poses to children’s vision. The course gives you the tools to communicate to patients the burden and potential complications of myopia, risk factors for progression, and ways to slow progression. In addition, you will learn to develop a risk profile for patients, review the available myopia management strategies, select the appropriate treatment options, and actively engage and guide the patient in their myopia management.
Take advantage of free resources and tools to aid communication. BHVI’s Myopia Calculator is a powerful evidence-based tool that can show parents the estimated progression of myopia for a child with no treatment and with each different treatment option.
The Myopia Guidelines are a quick evidence-based reference tool you can use as a daily reminder for practitioners and staff of the different stages of assessment and treatment of myopes. In consultation, it can be used as a visual tool to outline risk assessment, management options, and follow-up procedures for myopic children, establishing confidence in understanding, diagnosis, and most importantly, detailed handling and care for their child. Taking the time to educate your patients and parents about the need for myopia management is critical.
BHVI’s Myopia Education Program is an accredited online course that will help embed myopia management into your practice, from patient management to business development.
Rebecca Yan Shun Weng BOptom (Hons), GradCert OcTher, GradDip I&T, NAATI (Translator) is a project manager with BHVI. Her areas of interest are myopia, contact lenses, clinical trials, and partnership engagement.