Ethnic differences in the impact of parental myopia: findings from a population-based study of 12-year-old Australian children

Invest Ophthalmol Vis Sci. 2007 Jun;48(6):2520-8. doi: 10.1167/iovs.06-0716.


Purpose: To examine the influences of ethnicity, parental myopia, and near work on spherical equivalent refraction (SER) and axial length (AL) in a population-based sample of 12-year-old Australian children.

Methods: Year-7 children in the Sydney Myopia Study (n = 2353, 75.3% response) underwent an ophthalmic examination including cycloplegic autorefraction (1% cyclopentolate) and ocular biometry (IOLMaster; Carl Zeiss Meditec GmbH, Jena, Germany). Data for parental myopia, ethnicity, near work, and outdoor activities were derived from questionnaires and were available for 1781 children. Optical prescriptions of parents were sought if the spectacles were used.

Results: The prevalence of myopia in the children increased with the number of myopic parents (7.6%, 14.9%, and 43.6% for no, one, or two myopic parents). In parallel, the mean SER (+/-SE of the mean) was more negative (0.70 +/- 0.08, 0.34 +/- 0.09, and -0.55 +/- 0.34 D), and the mean AL was longer (23.32 +/- 0.05, 23.44 +/- 0.06, and 23.62 +/- 0.16 mm) after adjustment for demographic and environmental factors. In multivariate analyses, odds of childhood myopia did not change with higher levels of near work (odds ratio [OR] = 1.01; 95% confidence interval [CI] = 0.99-1.03). Interactions between parental myopia and ethnicity were significant for SER and AL (both P < 0.0001), reflecting greater decreases in SER and greater increases in AL with the number of myopic parents in the children of East Asian ethnicity than in the children of European Caucasian ethnicity. In the nonmyopic children, there was no association between parental myopia and AL.

Conclusions: In this sample, parental myopia was associated with more myopic SER and longer AL, with significant ethnic interactions.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Asian Continental Ancestry Group / ethnology*
  • Child
  • Child of Impaired Parents*
  • European Continental Ancestry Group / ethnology*
  • Eyeglasses
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Myopia / ethnology*
  • Myopia / therapy
  • New South Wales / epidemiology
  • Parents*
  • Prevalence
  • Refraction, Ocular / physiology
  • Surveys and Questionnaires