A synopsis of the prevalence rates and environmental risk factors for myopia

Clin Exp Optom. 2003 Sep;86(5):289-94. doi: 10.1111/j.1444-0938.2003.tb03124.x.


The prevalence rates of myopia are higher in urban Asian cities such as Hong Kong and Singapore. One observation over the past few decades is that the prevalence rates of myopia have been rising and there is an epidemic of myopia in Asia. The age-old question of the roles of nature and nurture in this process remains unanswered. The strongest evidence for an environmental link to myopia is near work activity. Childhood exposure to night lighting has also been explored in different studies but the results have been mixed. Twin studies, segregation analysis and association studies have demonstrated that hereditary factors play an important role in myopia development. The exact nature and interplay of genetic and environmental factors is not known and data suggest that environmental factors may interact with genetic factors to increase the risks of developing myopia. Future research is needed to identify specific modifiable lifestyle factors and genetic markers for myopia. This will enable preventive measures such as health education to be instituted.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Asia / epidemiology
  • Circadian Rhythm
  • Environment*
  • Humans
  • Lighting / adverse effects
  • Myopia / epidemiology*
  • Myopia / etiology*
  • Myopia / genetics
  • Prevalence
  • Reading
  • Risk Factors