NEW YORK—Dwight Akerman, OD, MBA, FAAO, FBCLA, chief medical editor, Review of Myopia Management and International Myopia Institute global ambassador and Lisa McAlister, global myopia lead at Johnson & Johnson Vision and recently-elected board chair of the Global Myopia Awareness Coalition (GMAC), spoke about new efforts to expand awareness of myopia management.

Dr. Dwight Akerman (l) and Lisa McAlister both reiterated that myopia is the primary eye health threat of the 21st century, “leaving lots of room for advances in therapies, policy and delivery options,” Dr. Akerman said.

They described how sharing recent research findings about myopia is resulting in new ways to educate parents, patients and eyecare professionals about the emerging new science of myopia management.

Dr. Akerman and McAlister both reiterated that myopia is the primary eye health threat of the 21st century, “leaving lots of room for advances in therapies, policy and delivery options,” according to Dr. Akerman.

As he began his presentation Dr. Akerman said, “I think every myopia meeting starts with this slide. It’s kind of a fundamental look at the global myopia situation and it’s really a sad slide because it shows the tremendous rise in myopia today. Over 34 percent of the world’s population is myopic. Over 5 percent are highly myopic. And by 2050, it’s estimated that half of the world’s population will be myopic. And worse yet, 10 percent will be highly myopic.

The global prevalence is clearly an issue and it is rising rapidly. “Myopia is oftentimes defined as a visual defect or a visual condition, straight out of the dictionary. Well, I’d like to challenge that, because, in fact, myopia is not a condition,” Dr. Akerman said.

“It’s not a visual defect. Myopia is an axial length disease, and it’s chronic and progressive,” he said.

McAlister went on to describe the GMAC as an industry coalition of leading companies, associations and media, all working together to make sure that awareness is growing around the prevalence of myopia, especially in children, with an emphasis on the fact that there are new treatments available for treating this condition.

McAlister said, “We are all about public driving awareness of myopia that it is a public health issue and that we all collectively need to do something about it. We’re mainly focused on parents, but we are working on raising awareness with the industry, eyecare professionals etc. We talk about consideration of new treatment options and we’re very focused on prompting parent conversations with ECPs.

“And so what we’re seeing is that there are people that are starting to learn about myopia, but there is no urgency and treatment, and we need to push toward urgency and treatment. Because as most in this room now, if we don’t treat early, there’s limited work we can do around slowing the progression,” she said.

McAlister described the dangers of ECPs taking a wait and see attitude with young patients. “Oftentimes, practitioners will examine a child, determine the child’s myopic prescribe glasses, and say, ‘You know what, let’s follow you. We’ll see you back in a year to see if you’ve progressed.’

“Well, guess what? Virtually all children progress in myopia. And often, when that child returns a year later, for their annual comprehensive exam, they’re a diopter more and they are more myopic.

In 2022, GMAC launched a new website called and this year, “we started using not only parent influencers but eyecare professionals as well as pediatricians, teachers and school nurses to bring this idea that it’s a whole health issue, and everyone should care about myopia.

“I think the point that I want to leave you with is that myopia is the primary eyecare threat of the 21st century. It is the hottest topic unquestionably in eyecare, in optometry and ophthalmology. It’s a big deal. It’s talked about at every meeting. There’s a boatload of education presented at every meeting. So it’s growing, but we’re still in its infancy.

“And so there’s a lot of room for innovation, in terms of therapies, but also in delivery systems, in terms of educational support, in terms of public policy and in terms of reimbursement,” McAlister concluded.