Purpose: To compare myopic progression rates in Taiwanese schoolchildren between urban and rural areas.
Methods: Several longitudinal studies of myopic progression were performed in urban and rural areas. Five primary schools, four junior high schools, and two senior high schools were selected from both urban and rural areas. Ages ranged from 7 to 18 years. The refractive state of each student was measured with an autorefractometer under cycloplegia.
Results: Mean myopic progression in primary school children (ages 7 to 12) in the urban areas was around 0.20 D/year for boys and 0.27 D/year for girls. The mean myopic progression rate in urban children from primary to junior high school age (ages 10 to 15) was 0.43 D/year for boys and 0.50 D/year for girls, faster than that in rural children (0.24 and 0.31 D/year, respectively). The average progression rate was fastest in children in junior high school (ages 13 to 15), around 0.45 D/year in urban areas and 0.28 D/year in rural areas. In senior high schools (ages 16 to 18), myopic progression slowed to 0.17 D/ year in boys and 0.33 D/year in girls. Myopic progression in all groups was faster in myopic eyes than in emmetropic or hyperopic eyes.
Conclusions: The average myopic progression in urban areas was greater than that in rural areas. Environmental factors such as urban development and academic grade level may be important contributing factors to myopic progression.