Throughout the world the incidence and prevalence of myopia is increasing. For example, in the early 1970s, only about 25 percent of Americans were nearsighted. But by 2004, myopia prevalence in the United States had grown to nearly 42 percent of the population.
New research, jointly funded by the College of Optometrists and Ulster University, has shown that myopia is more than twice as prevalent among children in the UK now than in the 1960s.
The study’s key findings include:
- Nearly one in five teenagers in the UK are myopic.
- Myopia is more than twice as prevalent among UK children now than in the 1960’s (16.4% vs 7.2%).
- Prevalence of myopia in white children in the UK is similar to that of white children in other countries.
- Prevalence of myopia in white children in the UK is much lower than in Asian countries where the majority of school leavers are myopic. For example, in South Korea, 96.5% of 19 year old males are myopic.
- Myopia is most likely to occur between six and 13 years of age.
- Children with one myopic parent are almost three times more likely to be myopic by age 13 than a child without a myopic parent. This increases to over seven times more likely when both parents are myopes.
- Children are becoming myopic at a younger age in the UK than in Australia. However, at ages 18-19 years, the prevalence of myopia in Australia and the UK is similar.
Myopia, the most common type of refractive error, is a complex trait including both genetic and environmental factors.
Numerous studies have tried to understand the cause of myopia. However, the exact aetiology of myopia is still unclear.
The prevalences of myopia vary across populations of different regions and ethnicities.
The exact causes of myopia is not understood, it is observed that myopic parents have more myopic children than non myopic parents. People who spend more time outdoors, even if they have myopic parents and even if they read a lot, are less likely to become myopic.
Why should you be interested in myopia control? Because slowing the progression of myopia may keep your child from developing high levels of shortsightedness that require thick, corrective eyeglasses and have been associated with serious eye problems later in life, such as early cataracts or even a detached retina.
Myopia occurs as because the eye grows too long, there is no way to correct this once it has happened. Discovering myopia early and stopping it from getting worse is the goal.
Research is showing that that there are methods to slow or prevent the progression of myopia, but the actions work best when the child is younger. Myopic changes are generally permanent; they don’t get better with treatment. Treatment should therefore be designed to prevent the development and progression and to do that requires eye examinations to start at a young age. There are no guarantees that any specific treatment will work for an individual person but the lack of early care prevents any potential benefit from starting early.
To learn more about the various approaches controlling myopia progression please visit