Eyecare Workforce Increases Needed to Accommodate Growing Myopia Epidemic

A woman listens to her opthamologist
Eye care practices must increase their workforce, provide additional training, and find ways to manage the speed of treatment in order to combat rising myopia, according to the report.

The UK health system will be able to meet the added workforce demand that will come with the influx of myopia management patients now that new treatment options are becoming accessible, according to a study published in Ophthalmic and Physiological Optics.

A combination of existing and emerging eye care workers will likely be able to keep up with an expected growth of patients seeking myopia management, so long as their practices prioritize upskilling eye care workers, according to the research

Researchers estimated the number of individuals with myopia aged between 6 and 20 years in the UK and Ireland and the full-time equivalent (FTE) workforce needed to implement myopia control measures. They used 2 different models to make their predictions; an examination-based model which identified the number of annual exams and proportion of young patients with myopia, and a prevalence model that provided epidemiological data on age-specific myopia progression. The team obtained their data through electronic medical records. 

Investigators identified 2,469,943 patients with myopia using the examination-based model and 2,235,713 individuals with myopia through the prevalence-based model. A total of 1,207,802 and 1,115,506 theoretical participants experienced myopia progression, according to the method- and prevalence-based models, respectively. 

Once the team estimated the number of patients who could benefit from myopia progression treatments, they estimated the workforce needed to provide low-dose atropine eye drops, orthokeratology, soft contact lenses (SCL) for myopia control and spectacles for myopia control. They compared these values with the workforce needed to provide refractive correction alone. 

Overall, investigators estimated FTE workforce values required for no myopia control treatment to be 876 and 793 using the examination and prevalence models, respectively. They determined that additional workforce was needed for atropine, orthokeratology, soft contact lens, and spectacle treatments for patients progressing at a 0.25 D per year threshold (+579 and +510; +630 and +548; +529 and +472; +479 and +433 for the examination and prevalence models, respectively). They noted values near half of these for patients progressing at a 0.50 D per year threshold. 

“[T]o avoid overwhelming eye care service capacity, it will be necessary to maintain or increase growth of the eye care workforce, provide additional training for the current workforce, manage the speed at which myopia control treatments are implemented into practice and generate further evidence and tools to optimize clinical review schedules and reduce visit length,” according to the researchers. 

Study limitations include a disproportionate representation of participants with White ethnicity. 


Lingham G, Loughman J, Kuzmenko S, Biba M, Flitcroft DI. Will treating progressive myopia overwhelm the eye care workforce? A workforce modelling study. Ophthalmic Physiol Opt. Published online June 21, 2022. doi:10.1111/opo.13019