Key Facts

Increasing Prevalence

Myopia has become increasingly prevalent around the world in recent decades, resulting in a major health, social and economic burden. In fact, in 2010, myopia was estimated to be the main cause of distance visual impairment worldwide – and it is ranked as the second most common cause of blindness globally.¹

Cooper J, Schulman E and Jamal N. Current Status on the Development and Treatment of Myopia. Optometry Clinical Research: 2012 American Optometry Association.

As a common refractive problem, it now affects 100 million Americans, with prevalence rising from 25% (1971-1972) to 41.6% (1999-2004)²

  • The NEI reports that prevalence in the United States has almost doubled in 30 years³
FAST FACT: The impact of myopia in children is particularly important: retarding its progression in children would impact 42 million adults in the US.²
Regional Differences Myopia is more common in certain regions and ethnic groups. For instance:
  • Its prevalence is more than 2 times higher among East Asians than similarly aged Caucasians¹
  • In Taiwan and Singapore, the prevalence is 20% to 30% in children 6 to 7 years old, increasing to 60-80% in young adults²
Why is Prevalence Important? The implications of a high number of people having myopia are serious; it is a major risk factor for ocular diseases such as cataract, glaucoma, choroidal retinal degeneration, and retinal detachment.4
  • Even in low myopes (<3.00 D), the risks associated are comparable to the risks of smoking and hypertension to cardiovascular health4
  • It is now considered a worldwide public health issue: Myopia is 1 of the 5 ocular conditions identified as immediate priorities by the World Health Organization’s Global Health Initiative for the Elimination of Avoidable Blindness4
  • Myopia is the primary risk factor for myopic maculopathy, the second most common cause of low vision in Beijing4
Myopia in Children: A Particular Concern Myopia develops rapidly as children grow. Cases of “high myopia” (over -5.00 diopters) are increasing, especially in Asia where 10-20% of school-age children suffer from high myopia. The development in children is particularly disturbing because it gives them a longer time to become highly myopic, because the eye continues to elongate, increasing their risk of more serious vision problems in adulthood.

Earlier Onset Means Higher Myopia

chart - earlier onset of myopia in children
Adapted from Goss DA, Rainey BB, 1998
FAST FACT: The earlier the onset of myopia, the higher rate of progression and the final degree of myopia.5
  1. Holden BA, Fricke TR, Wilson DA et al. Global Prevalence of Myopia and High Myopia and Temporal Trends from 2000 through 200. Journal of the American Academy of Ophthalmology May 2016(123:5):1036-1042.
  2. Cooper, J., Schulman, E., Jamal, N. (2012). Current Status on the Development and Treatment of Myopia. Optometry. 83(5):179-199.
  3. Vitale S, Sperduto RD, Ferris III, FL. Increased Prevalence of Myopia in the United States Between 1971-19772 and 1999-2004. Arch Ophthalmol.2009;127(12):1632-1639.
  4. Huang J, et al. (2016). Efficacy Comparison of 16 Interventions for Myopia Control in Children. Ophthalmology. 123(4): 697-708
  5. Goss DA, Rainey BB. Relation of Childhood Myopia Progression to Time of Year. J Am Optom Assoc. 1998 Apr;69(4):262-6.