J&J Vision and Leading Eye Health Groups Unveil New Recommendations in Response to the Growing Myopia Epidemic

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JACKSONVILLE, Fla.—Johnson & Johnson Vision announced Tuesday a new guide with recommendations for eyecare professionals to assess, monitor and treat myopia in children. The new recommendations call for earlier intervention to help slow the progression of myopia in children based on clinical literature and real-world experience. The recommendations and guide, “Managing Myopia: A Clinical Response to the Growing Epidemic,” are a result of a year of collaboration with leading organizations in optometry, including the American Optometric Association (AOA), American Academy of Optometry (AAO), Association of Schools and Colleges of Optometry (ASCO) and Singapore Optometric Association (SOA), according to the announcement.

This marks the latest milestone to address the growing myopia epidemic following the establishment of a strategic research partnership between Johnson & Johnson Vision, the Singapore National Eye Centre (SNEC) and the Singapore Eye Research Institute (SERI), according to the announcement.

“As optometrists, we have been concerned for the eye health of children and the trajectory of myopia on a global level, and COVID-19 has only increased our concern,” said Noel Brennan, MScOptom, PhD, FAAO and clinical research fellow, myopia control platform, Johnson & Johnson Vision. “Johnson & Johnson Vision, in partnership with leaders in optometry, has created this new myopia management guide as a clinical response to address the rising rates of myopia globally and solidify our collective commitment to combating myopia as a major threat to our children’s eye health.”

Myopia may be caused by both environmental and genetic factors, and it increases the risk of myopic macular degeneration (MMD), staphyloma, retinal detachment, primary open-angle glaucoma, and cataracts—all of which can lead to visual impairment and blindness. The new recommendations bring greater awareness to the urgent need to assess, monitor and treat myopia in children.

“Doctors of optometry are on the primary eyecare frontlines battling this crisis and it is imperative to deliver forward-looking clinical information, grounded in emerging data and first-hand, real-world experience,” AOA president-elect Robert Layman, OD, said in the announcement. “In collaborating with Johnson & Johnson Vision and this group of leaders, we are providing doctors with information that will enable them to deliver individualized patient care that will support the patient throughout their childhood and into adulthood.”

Key points for eyecare professionals and patients to consider based on the new guide include:

• Monitor for myopia in children: Based on guidelines from the American Optometric Association (AOA), children need eye examinations between the ages of 6-12 months and at least once between ages 3-5, then annually through age 17.

• Secure early treatment: The defining indication for beginning treatment is the onset of myopia. Identifying and treating myopia as early as possible is critical to slow progression.

• Find the right therapy: The right treatment for a myopic child depends on a combination of the practitioner's advice, parents’ preference and the child’s capabilities and maturity. Knowing efficacy is similar across treatments, practitioners and families can choose the best option for each patient, including orthokeratology, soft multifocal contact lenses, myopia control spectacles or atropine eye drops.

• Monitoring myopia progression: Frequent monitoring, at least every six months once treatment is established, helps reduce barriers to use, identify non-compliant or risky behaviors, and address any problems as early as possible. Axial length and cycloplegic refractive error may be measured at frequent intervals, but should be evaluated over at least one year before considering therapeutic changes or supplemental therapy because progression can vary seasonally.

• Communicating myopia control efficacy: Myopia control treatment effect tends to be more of an absolute effect than a proportional effect. The best descriptor of myopia control efficacy is the cumulative absolute reduction in elongation or refractive error (i.e. total mm or D).

Managing Myopia: A Clinical Response to the Growing Epidemic is available to download here