We’re in the middle of a public health crisis, even as COVID-19 numbers improve and life begins to return to normal for millions of vaccinated Americans. Studies show myopia is the most common ocular disorder worldwide, it is the leading cause of visual impairment in children, and its incidence is increasing rapidly.1,2 In 2010, an estimated 1.9 billion people (27% of the world’s population) were myopic, and 70 million of them (2.8%) had high myopia. These numbers are projected to rise to 52% and 10%, respectively, by 2050.
Progressive and pathologic myopic changes are treatable, and FDA approved treatment option for myopia management, MiSight daily disposable contact lenses, have been on the market since early 2020.3 We sit down with Dr. Inna Lazar on this podcast as she shares her passion for myopia management, how she is addressing this need in her private practice, and what she is doing with her popular social media platform @dr.innalazar on Instagram (with over 27,000 followers) to raise public awareness.
After graduating from optometry school in 2015, Dr. Lazar went to work at a busy group practice in Connecticut, but found that it was hard to incorporate specialty care like dry eye and specialty contact lenses into such a fast-paced practice modality. She left to open her own private practice, Greenwich Eye Care. “I knew I really just wanted to concentrate on myopia management and dry eye,” Dr. Lazar explained. “That’s my passion; that’s why I went to school. The office is quite small (just 300 square feet) but it’s perfect for what I want to do.”
Dr. Lazar embraces myopia management as medical optometry practiced to the fullest scope and she encourages all doctors to change their mindset that myopia is purely a refractive condition. Studies show that in the USA, fitting rates of soft multifocal contact lenses for myopia control in children is less than 5%.4 Her calling to practice myopia management was inspired by simply seeing kids in need in her own clinic. “I don’t feel that it’s right to let kids just get worse,” Dr. Lazar explains. “How does a doctor decide that today I’m going to treat this patient with glaucoma, but I’m not going to address this kid with progressive myopia?”
How does she approach this concept with parents where it’s been normalized that children’s vision will get worse every year? “I drill the concept that this is not normal,” Dr. Lazar explains. “We do not allow kids’ vision to keep getting worse these days. We have a treatment; we treat this like any other medical condition.” As soon as the MiSight contact lenses became the first FDA-approved treatment for myopia management at the end of 2019, she was fast to get in line to get certified to prescribe the lenses. She found the certification process very informative, giving doctors insight into the scientific studies behind myopia progression and the risks of associated retinal disease, including glaucoma, cataract, and retinal detachment, that they can share and explain to concerned parents about why slowing myopia progression is so important to long term ocular health.
“We can change this child’s future by treating them, and that’s very rewarding,” Dr. Lazar explains. Her success in connecting with parents is all about the tone of how she presents myopia treatment. Dr. Lyerly shares that before MiSight certification, she was presenting myopia management as a choice or option to her patients and their parents as something they “could do” if they wanted. Now her dialogue is much different when she sees a child with a prescription change:
“I’m concerned. Your prescription is changing and we don’t want to sit by and let that happen. We have FDA-approved options to keep your prescription from changing so quickly, and that’s what we need to do going forward. We can’t just let this keep happening to your eyes.”
Dr. Lazar shares that she’s built her myopia management practice by asking all of her myopic patients if they have kids. She explains to her patients that are myopic that as a practice, she doesn’t let kids’ prescriptions get as high as what their prescription was allowed to reach, but it is important to start treatment early. This helps get children on her books so that she can find early myopes and get them the appropriate treatment as soon as possible.
As an early adopter of MiSight contact lenses, Dr. Lazar shares that she has found MiSight lenses to be a big practice builder for her 4 year old private practice. As soon as she got MiSight certified, she sent out letters to pediatricians and schools in her community to share this new FDA treatment, asking them to let her help if they find children with blurry vision. She’s also seen a lot of referrals from friends of children she has fit into MiSight lenses as their parents talk and share about this new treatment option. Her social media has helped bring in new patients not just to her personal office, but to grow awareness for myopia management worldwide among patients and doctors. With over 27,000 followers, her video posts are reaching tens of thousands at a time. She shares that on a recent survey on her Instagram account, she asked fellow ODs, “do you fit myopia?” A shocking 75% responded “not yet.” She’s passionate about changing those numbers and asking doctors if they don’t plan on treating myopia in their practice, to make that referral to a doctor who does. The best way to help grow public awareness around myopia control is to get more doctors embracing treatment!
“We need more people to talk about,” Dr. Lazar states emphatically. “It’s not acceptable to sit back and watch children’s eyes get worse every year.”
Want to learn more about myopia management? Head to https://coopervision.com/practitioner/myopia-management.
1. Fricke TR, Jong M, Naidoo KS, et al. Global prevalence of visual impairment associated with myopic macular degeneration and temporal trends from 2000 through 2050: systematic review, meta-analysis and modelling. Br J Ophthalmol. 2018;102(7):855-862.
2. Ma Y, Qu X, Zhu X, et al. Age-specific prevalence of visual impairment and refractive error in children aged 3-10 years in Shanghai, China. Invest Ophthalmol Vis Sci. 2016;57(14):6188-6196.