Better treatment of myopia presented in 2016 Optometry’s Meeting


Hardt Eye Clinic ophthalmologist Don Hardt said better treatment procedures for what he terms as “Myopia Epidemic” were presented during the 2016 Optometry’s Meeting held in Boston from June 23 to July 3.

Hardt said the confab, which was sponsored by the American Optometric Association and the American Optometric Student Association, also allowed the CNMI’s eye healthcare to catch up to U.S. standards.

In an email, Hardt said that the AOA has been releasing many new studies in the treatment of various eye conditions that are rampant everywhere, including myopia.

The “Myopia Epidemic,” as Hardt explained, is an increasing problem for children and young adults. “This [Myopia or nearsightedness] is a rapidly growing part of the eye care. It has been termed the “Myopia Epidemic” The percentage of children and young adults with myopia (nearsightedness) has increased dramatically over the last 25 years,” said Hardt.

Hardt stresses that myopia is a problem that could lead to other serious eye conditions in the future if left untreated. “Worsening myopia leads to an increased dependence on glasses and/or contact lenses. More importantly increasing myopia also increases the risk for a broad range of potentially blinding diseases such as retinal detachment and glaucoma,” said Hardt. “Preventing or decreasing myopia progression will dramatically lower a child’s likelihood of developing disease later in life.”

“New studies were presented at the conference helping to guide this treatment, and to refine our treatment protocols,” added Hardt.

Glaucoma is also on the sights of the AOA. “Glaucoma is the most common serious eye disease seen in the CNMI. Numerous studies were presented which will help to guide changes in our treatment strategies,” said Hardt.

New and upcoming means of treating glaucoma are emerging and Hardt is looking to add these to the CNMI arsenal. “There is also emerging technology to better image the optic nerve for improved accuracy of diagnosis and to better guide treatment protocols. We are planning to add this technology over the next few months. The same technology will aid in the diagnosis and treatment planning for diabetic retinopathy.”

Chronic eye pain or dryness is less compelling but equally as dangerous if left untreated. Fortunately, Hardt claims that there is a new drug for the treatment of chronic eye pain or dryness. “There is a revolution in new treatments and diagnostic technology for those with chronic eye pain and dryness. At the conclusion of the meeting, it was announced that the first new drug treatment in this category in over 13 years was approved by the F.D.A. It is called Xiidra,” said Hardt.

More new treatment procedures would be present for chronic eye pain. “There are several new technologies used to treat these conditions. Again we will be monitoring carefully, and will likely add these in over the next year or so,” claims Hardt.

Hardt is enthusiastic that treatment procedures for various conditions in the CNMI are improving and sees no stop to the continuous improvement. “Our treatments have changed dramatically over the last few years, and we can help these patients much more than before. We made a significant investment last year in the Oculus Keratograph, which has greatly enhanced our ability to treat these patients effectively,” concluded Hardt.

Erwin Encinares | Reporter
Erwin Charles Tan Encinares holds a bachelor’s degree from the Chiang Kai Shek College and has covered a wide spectrum of assignments for the Saipan Tribune. Encinares is the paper’s political reporter.

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