Introduction: To determine time trends in myopia over a 20-year period in Taiwan, we conducted 5 nationwide surveys pertaining to the ocular refraction of schoolchildren in 1983, 1986, 1990, 1995 and 2000.
Materials and methods: The sampling technique used herein involved the assessment of stratified systematic clusters, with the unweighted myopic rate being represented using data derived from different sectors of the population, such as metropolitan, city, town, and aboriginal. The mean values for the spherical equivalent of the cycloplegic refractive status and the dimension of corneal radii as determined by the autorefractometer were used for the calculation.
Results: In our review of 5 nationwide myopia surveys, we found that the mean prevalence of myopia among 7 year olds increased from 5.8% in 1983 to 21% in 2000. At the age of 12, the prevalence of myopia was 36.7% in 1983 increasing to 61% in 2000, corresponding figures for 15-year-olds being 64.2% and 81%, respectively. The prevalence of myopia increased from 74% in 1983 to 84% in 2000 for children aged between 16 and 18 years, and, in addition, the prevalence of high myopia (over -6.0 D) increased from 10.9% in 1983 to 21% of 18-year-old students of Taiwan in 2000. The mean refractive status at the age of 12 deteriorated from -0.48 D in 1983 to -1.45 D in 2000, and from -1.49 D to -2.89 D for children aged 15, whilst for individuals aged 18, it deteriorated from -2.55 D in 1983 to -3.64 D in 2000. The mean ocular refraction began to progress to a myopic condition at the age of 11 in 1983, this becoming an age of 8 years in 2000. There appeared to be significant difference in both the prevalence and the degree of myopia between study participants residing in cities and villages.
Conclusions: We conclude that the cause of the relative increasing severity of myopia among the schoolchildren was due to the onset of myopia at a very young, and progressively-decreasing, age over the study period. Thus, to reduce the prevalence and severity of myopia, we should pay more attention to the eye care of pre-schoolchildren.