Purpose: The aim of this study was to investigate the effect of near-work on development and progression of myopia among adults exposed to high educational demands.
Methods: A three-year longitudinal refraction study was performed among 224 Norwegian engineering students (mean age 20.6 years, 117 females and 107 males) measuring their refraction at the beginning and the end of the period. The examinations included automated and clinical refraction in cycloplegia and a questionnaire regarding time spent on different kinds of near-work was filled in by the participants. A total of 192 students (100 females and 92 males) completed the study.
Results: The mean refractive change of -0.51+/-0.49 D (n=192) during the three-year period was statistically significant (p=0.0001). A significant relationship between refractive change towards myopia and time spent on reading scientific literature (p< or =0.001) and on practical near-work (p< or =0.05), respectively, was found. Also, a significant relationship between refractive change towards myopia and time spent at lectures was revealed (p< or =0.001). No relationship was found between refractive change and time spent at working with video display terminals (VDT) or watching television, respectively.
Conclusions: The results indicate that intensive near-work could initiate myopia or lead to its progression in young adults. The time spent on near-work seems to play a significant role in that process.