Myopia is a chronic progressive disease whose research is becoming increasingly important. A study from 2016 (Holden et al., Ophthalmology) predicts that by 2050, almost 50% of the world population will be myopic. Asia currently sees the highest prevalence of myopia, but in other countries, such as the USA, the numbers are also increasing and so is the risk of getting blind. The disease develops particularly badly when it occurs in children under 12 years of age (Hu Y. et al., JAMA Ophthalmol 2020).
In Myopia, the axial length of the eyeball increases, and it increases the risk for numerous eye diseases e.g.:
- Cataracts: There is a significant association between high myopia (-6 D or stronger) and incident nuclear cataract (Younan C. et al., IOVS 2002). The cause is still under investigation, but it is assumed that the increasing axial eyeball length may prevent nutrients from being delivered to the back of the lens. This could lead to a loss of clarity and later to cataracts.
- Glaucoma: Glaucoma is one of the leading causes of irreversible blindness. The link between Myopia and Glaucoma is still controversial. It is suggested that the structural changes in the eye associated with myopia (e.g., reduced thickness of the retinal nerve fiber layer (Chen SJ et al., Int J Opthalmol 2012), may make the optic nerve more susceptible to glaucomatous changes.
- Retinal Detachment: A study from 1993 (Group TEDC-CS, American Journal of Epidemiology) found that a refractive error of only -1 to -3 D is already associated with a fourfold increased risk of retinal detachment compared with non-myopic eyes. Above -3 D, the risk was even increased 10-fold. The main cause of retinal detachment is the retinal thinning of the macula, which increases with age, causing tears and holes. The consequence is a splitting of the retina, called myopic retinoschisis (MRS). Likewise, the layers under the retina can also be damaged by choroidal neovascularization (CNV), the growth of new vessels, which leads to significant problems.
Due to these developments, research on myopia is increasingly important. We are therefore particularly pleased to launch our latest products, Keratometer and Photorefractor, which have both been developed by Prof. Frank Schaeffel from the University of Tübingen. Over the last decade and even longer, Prof. Schaeffel’s inventions have become the de-facto standards in myopia research to measure the optics of the eyes of small laboratory animals.