Purpose: High myopia in childhood is associated with important ocular and systemic conditions. However in the UK, high myopia in early childhood is not specifically identified in current ophthalmology, optometry, or orthoptic protocols for screening, referral, or investigation. An ongoing study in the West Midlands, UK, is investigating high myopia presenting to community health care clinics with the aim of compiling guidelines for assessment and subsequent referral.
Methods: Children with high myopia were identified from community optometric and orthoptic sources and invited for an ophthalmology and optometry examination to ascertain possible ocular or systemic disease.
Results: High myopia with no associated ocular or systemic condition was present in 15 (56%) of the children. In seven children (25%), associated ocular problems were found including unrecognized retinal dystrophies and amblyopia. Systemic disorders associated with high myopia were found in five children (19%) and included Sticklers syndrome, Weill-Marchesani syndrome, and homocystinuria. In one child, the diagnosis made before this study was found to be incorrect, and in another child, the results were inconclusive. In two cases, the diagnosis of a systemic condition in the child led to the identification of the disease in at least one relative.
Conclusions: There is a high prevalence of ocular and systemic abnormality in young children seen in the community. Optometric and ophthalmologic assessment of children less than 10 years with myopia > or =5 D is likely to identify significant ocular or systemic disease, a proportion of which will respond to medical intervention. Detection and prompt referral of these cases by community health care services may be expected to prolong vision and possibly life expectancy.