RISING LEVELS OF MYOPIA IN CHILDREN – A “PANDEMIC WITHIN A PANDEMIC”

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Cleveland Clinic Abu Dhabi Launches Specialized Pediatric Myopia Clinic to Prevent Potentially Blinding Eye Complications

Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates: Experts from Cleveland Clinic Abu Dhabi’s Eye Institute have warned that increased time indoors looking at screens in 2020 has led to a steep rise in myopia among children, creating potentially blinding complications later in life.

Myopia, often referred to as nearsightedness, is the most common eye condition worldwide. It occurs when the shape of the eye changes, becoming too long for its focusing power and causing blurred intermediate and distance vision. Left untreated, myopia can progressively worsen in childhood, affecting academic performance and quality of life as well as increasing the risk of glaucoma, myopic macular degeneration, and retinal detachment, which are potentially blinding conditions.

As rates of myopia have continued to rise, studies have linked the condition to increased time spent indoors in addition to other factors. Physicians are now concerned that the COVID-19 pandemic and the rise in home schooling have caused an explosion in cases, with one study in China registering sharp growth in the number of myopia cases in young school-aged children in 2020[1].

“Myopia has been on the rise for a long time but the events of 2020, with so many children staying indoors and looking at screens for extended periods of time, has worsened the situation. It’s a ‘pandemic within a pandemic’ that will lead to serious complications without proper care,” explains Dr. Arif Khan, a pediatric ophthalmologist at Cleveland Clinic Abu Dhabi.

With current trends myopia will affect half of the global population by 2050.[2] In response to the significant increase in the number of myopic children, Cleveland Clinic Abu Dhabi’s Eye Institute has opened a specialized pediatric myopia clinic to monitor children and work to prevent their condition from progressing. Following a comprehensive eye exam, children can be referred to the specialized myopia clinic should doctors determine that they could benefit from personalized care to help prevent their condition from progressing further.

“The higher a person’s myopia, the higher their risk of developing eye disease such as glaucoma or retinal detachment later in life. With children developing myopia at younger ages, the risk of developing high myopia increases dramatically. Our goal is to prevent or slow the progression in a growing child, significantly reducing their risk of sight- threatening conditions later in life,” says Dr. Christine Dackiw, an ophthalmologist at Cleveland Clinic Abu Dhabi.

The pediatric myopia clinic takes a multidisciplinary and personalized approach to preventing the progression of myopia. The primary treatment employs specialized eye drops that are compounded at Cleveland Clinic Abu Dhabi. In addition, multifocal glasses and contact lenses are options that can also be appropriate. 

“We’re already seeing a growing number of children in our practice, but this is just the crest of a coming wave. Without preventative care, in 10 or 20 years we’re going to have a lot of young adults all over the world dealing with potentially blinding eye disease,” concludes Dr. Khan.

Doctors have long recommended that all children have an initial eye exam at approximately the age of four. Effective screening enables causes of preventable blindness to be treated during childhood, when they are most correctable as the visual system is still developing. However, if parents suspect a child has an eye problem, the child should be examined as soon as possible regardless of age. Cleveland Clinic Abu Dhabi’s pediatric ophthalmologists perform comprehensive eye exams and treatments for children of any age and, when necessary, can perform corrective surgery, even for rare congenital disease in newborns.

For more information or to book an appointment at Cleveland Clinic Abu Dhabi, call 800 8 CCAD (2223) visit www.clevelandclinicabudhabi.ae or download the Cleveland Clinic Abu Dhabi app.

About Cleveland Clinic Abu Dhabi:

Cleveland Clinic Abu Dhabi, an integral part of Mubadala Health, is a multispecialty hospital on Al Maryah Island in Abu Dhabi, UAE. Cleveland Clinic Abu Dhabi is a unique and unparalleled extension of US-based Cleveland Clinic’s model of care, specifically designed to address a range of complex and critical care requirements unique to the Abu Dhabi population.

Cleveland Clinic Abu Dhabi has the following Institutes: Heart & Vascular, Neurological, Digestive Disease, Eye, Respiratory, Critical Care, Surgical Subspecialties, Medical Subspecialties, Emergency Medicine, Anesthesiology, Pathology & Laboratory Medicine, Imaging, Quality & Patient Safety, and Clinical & Nursing. In all, more than 40 medical and surgical specialties are represented at Cleveland Clinic Abu Dhabi.

The facilities at Cleveland Clinic Abu Dhabi combine state-of-the-art amenities and world-class service standards. The hospital is a 394 (expandable to 490) bed facility, with five clinical floors, three diagnostic and treatment levels, and 13 floors of critical and acute inpatient units. It is a physician-led medical facility served by North American/European Board Certified (or equivalent) physicians. Cleveland Clinic Abu Dhabi provides patients in the region direct access to the world’s best healthcare providers and Cleveland Clinic’s unique model of care, reducing their need to travel abroad for treatment.

Cleveland Clinic Abu Dhabi – Al Ain began offering select medical services in December 2017. The facility is located on the Tawam Hospital Campus in Al Ain.

About Mubadala Health:

Mubadala Health is the integrated healthcare network of Mubadala Investment Company. Established 2021, Mubadala Health operates, manages, and develops a portfolio of healthcare assets including: Abu Dhabi Telemedicine Centre (ADTC), Amana Healthcare, Capital Health Screening Centre (CHSC), Healthpoint, Imperial College London Diabetes Centre (ICLDC), and National Reference Laboratory (NRL). In addition, Cleveland Clinic Abu Dhabi is an integral part of Mubadala Health. With a vision to transform the regional healthcare landscape, Mubadala Health sets a new benchmark for the UAE and regional healthcare industry through its state-of-the-art facilities and world-class caregivers who strive to put patients first across its continuum of care. Innovation, research, and education are the foundational pillars of Mubadala Health, supporting the further development of a sustainable healthcare sector in line with the vision of Abu Dhabi and the region.