Increased prevalence of myopia in the United States between 1971-1972 and 1999-2004

Arch Ophthalmol. 2009 Dec;127(12):1632-9. doi: 10.1001/archophthalmol.2009.303.

Abstract

Objective: To compare US population prevalence estimates for myopia in 1971-1972 and 1999-2004.

Methods: The 1971-1972 National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey provided the earliest nationally representative estimates for US myopia prevalence; myopia was diagnosed by an algorithm using either lensometry, pinhole visual acuity, and presenting visual acuity (for presenting visual acuity > or =20/40) or retinoscopy (for presenting visual acuity < or =20/50). Using a similar method for diagnosing myopia, we examined data from the 1999-2004 National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey to determine whether myopia prevalence had changed during the 30 years between the 2 surveys.

Results: Using the 1971-1972 method, the estimated prevalence of myopia in persons aged 12 to 54 years was significantly higher in 1999-2004 than in 1971-1972 (41.6% vs 25.0%, respectively; P < .001). Prevalence estimates were higher in 1999-2004 than in 1971-1972 for black individuals (33.5% vs 13.0%, respectively; P < .001) and white individuals (43.0% vs 26.3%, respectively; P < .001) and for all levels of myopia severity (>-2.0 diopters [D]: 17.5% vs 13.4%, respectively [P < .001]; < or =-2.0 to >-7.9 D: 22.4% vs 11.4%, respectively [P < .001]; < or =-7.9 D: 1.6% vs 0.2%, respectively [P < .001]).

Conclusions: When using similar methods for each period, the prevalence of myopia in the United States appears to be substantially higher in 1999-2004 than 30 years earlier. Identifying modifiable risk factors for myopia could lead to the development of cost-effective interventional strategies.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study
  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Research Support, N.I.H., Intramural
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • African Continental Ancestry Group / statistics & numerical data
  • Age Distribution
  • Child
  • Educational Status
  • European Continental Ancestry Group / statistics & numerical data
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Myopia / classification
  • Myopia / epidemiology*
  • Nutrition Surveys
  • Prevalence
  • Risk Factors
  • Sex Distribution
  • United States / epidemiology
  • Visual Acuity
  • Young Adult