Awareness of the myopia epidemic is being overshadowed by better known health conditions such as obesity despite being three times as prevalent, according to an expert speaker at Optrafair.

Professor James Loughman, clinical and research director at Ocuco, told delegates at the CET Theatre that obesity was now classed as a disease in the US, unlike myopia.

His lecture, Myopia versus Obesity, described both conditions as 'new epidemics'. He warned though that while obesity was accepted as a 'killer crisis', myopia sufferers were all too often perceived as fashionable glasses wearers without any of the negative connotations.

There was a distinct lack of research into myopia compared with obesity, Prof Loughman said, adding public health messages about smoking and healthy eating can be equally applied to eye conditions.

'Myopia is the most common and fastest growing eye condition worldwide. Ninety seven per cent of young people are myopic in parts of Asia and studies are also showing this is already an issue in Europe too.

'It is also spreading at a much higher rate than obesity.'