One in 4 children in the U.S. is myopic, but according to The Harris Poll survey results released recently by COOPERVISION, only 33 percent of parents know what that term means or how it can affect their children’s future eyesight. This corroborates the finding that 97 percent of ECPs agree parents should know more about the ways they can help protect children’s vision. The survey was conducted among U.S. ECPs including optometrists and ophthalmologists and more than 1,000 U.S. parents with children between 8 and 15 years old regarding their knowledge of myopia.

According to the research, two thirds of eyecare professionals (66 percent) have seen an increase in the prevalence of pediatric myopia in their practice over the last five to 10 years, which aligns with data from the American Optometric Association (AOA), showing myopia has become increasingly prevalent in recent years in the U.S., with an increase of 25 percent in the past 40 years. Around one quarter of parents (26 percent) have a nearsighted child, and about three quarters of those children were diagnosed between the ages of 3 and 12. But even though this condition is increasing, and the severity is getting worse, there are many misunderstandings surrounding myopia, what it is and why it’s important for children to have their eyesight checked regularly by an ECP.

More insights from the survey include:
  • 81 percent of ECPs agree myopia is one of the biggest problems impacting children’s eyesight today, compared to 72 percent of parents.
  • 56 percent of ECPs agree that myopia, left untreated, increases the risk of irreversible vision loss later in life.
  • 73 percent of parents strongly/somewhat agree that teachers are more likely to notice that children have vision problems; 68 percent of parents strongly/somewhat agree that school nurses often notice potential vision problems among children before parents.
  • 22 percent of parents report a key reason prompting an ECP visit is an in-school eye screening, whereas 92 percent of ECPs state this is a reason for parents seeing them for their child’s vision.
  • 84 percent of ECPs wish parents spoke with them sooner about their child’s vision, and almost half of parents wish they spoke with an ECP sooner too.
  • 84 percent of ECPs agree parents need to understand the younger the child is when diagnosed with myopia, the more urgent it is to address this condition.
  • 71 percent of ECPs rate it absolutely essential/very important to slow progression of myopia among children 8 to 15 years old. 87 percent of ECPs say they would be interested in using contact lenses for children 8 to 15 with myopia in the future.
  • Parents say they are more knowledgeable about other childhood conditions including the flu (93 percent), ear infections (86 percent) and lice (80 percent) compared with their knowledge of myopia (65 percent).
  • –Andrew Karp