Interactions of genes and environment in myopia

Dev Ophthalmol. 2003:37:34-49. doi: 10.1159/000072037.


Myopia is a condition in which the eye is too long for the focal length of cornea and lens, and the plane of sharp focus ends up in front of the retina. Given that the growth of the length of the eye is normally controlled with extreme precision by an image-processing feedback mechanism in the retina, myopia can either be the result of inappropriate visual stimulation, genetically determined changes in the gain or offset of the feedback loops or of inappropriate responses of the target tissues. There is no doubt that an environmental component is involved and extended near work appears to be the major risk factor. However, there is also no doubt that myopia is inherited since myopic parents are much more likely to have myopic children, and myopia is far more frequent in Asian populations than in the USA or Europe, even if groups are compared that have performed similar amounts of near work. A number of systemic or ophthalmic diseases are associated with myopia, indicating that metabolic conditions may interfere either with the gains of the feedback loops or the responses of the target tissue, the sclera. Since there is still no therapy against myopia development, research is directed toward the identification of genes that control the axial elongation of the eye.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Disease Models, Animal
  • Environment*
  • Genes*
  • Humans
  • Myopia / epidemiology
  • Myopia / genetics*
  • Prevalence