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Lack of awareness causing rise in myopia cases

By Yusra Irfan

KARACHI: A study carried out in the general population attending outpatient department (OPD) of Jinnah Postgraduate Medical Centre (JPMC), Karachi, revealed that myopia is rapidly increasing in the country, like other parts of the world, but majority are least concerned about their eye health that showed there is dearth of awareness regarding myopia amongst general population.

Myopia is a refractive error in which the eye fails to see distant objects clearly i.e. nearsightedness. It is estimated that approximately one billion people will fall prey to high myopia by 2050, the researchers said in their report, while referring to some international literature.

The study was published in the latest issue of the Journal of Dow University of Health Sciences.

The researchers said that myopia is the most common cause of vision impairment and the second most common cause of blindness globally. If left untreated it may lead to serious health issues such as myopic macular degeneration, retinal detachment, glaucoma, and cataract.

“There may be many factors contributing to the prevalence of myopia but notably excessive use of near vision and use of small-screen devices for a long time period is a major reason. Moreover, lack of proper diet like fruits, vegetables, milk, egg and decreased sun exposure that ultimately causes vitamin D deficiency also leads to weak eyesight. In addition, many genetic and environmental factors are also included.”

The researchers included 365 visitors of age between 16 to 40 years in the study who visited the OPD of JPMC for check-ups from October to December 2018. Data was collected by asking the participants to answer a simple self-structured questionnaire. Questions regarding their eyesight, awareness and common practices towards nearsightedness were asked. The results were characterized and associated with gender, residence, educational status, duration of suffering from myopia, eyesight checked by the doctors and wearing contact lens.

They found out that there were 43.3% myopic individuals, of whom 74.68% of individuals wear contact lenses. Only 179 (49%) individuals got checked their eyesight by a doctor. Among these 67 (37%) got their eyesight checked only once in a whole lifetime, 42(23%) twice a year, 33 (18%) once in a year, 27 (15%) after every three years and 10 (5%) after every five years. According to educational status, 28% of individuals had matriculation education, followed by 25% with primary education, whereas 20% were uneducated. As many as 170 (46%) did nothing to prevent short-sightedness, 102(28%) took healthy diet, 102 (28%) avoided sun exposure, 33 (9%) preferred home remedies, 19 (5%) took vitamin supplements and 16 (4%) practiced other measures.

Through this study, it was investigated as to how awareness, educational status, and other demographic factors play a role in myopia. A significant association of myopia was noted with eyesight checked by a doctor and educational status. It noted that 48.6% of uneducated people did nothing for their eye health. These findings revealed that educational status, degree of awareness and practice of preventive measures play a key role

in the early diagnosis of myopia.

Authors of the study comprised Alyna Hafeez, Zobia Tariq, Laraib Khan and Mishal Khan of Sindh Medical College, Jinnah Sindh Medical University, who noted that there was a dearth of awareness regarding myopia among the general population, saying that population needs to be given awareness and more sensitive screening programs should be conducted in this regard.

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