Worldwide prevalence and risk factors for myopia

Ophthalmic Physiol Opt. 2012 Jan;32(1):3-16. doi: 10.1111/j.1475-1313.2011.00884.x.


Background: Myopia, the most common type of refractive error, is a complex trait including both genetic and environmental factors. Numerous studies have tried to elucidate the aetiology of myopia. However, the exact aetiology of myopia is still unclear.

Purpose: To summarize the worldwide patterns and trends for the prevalence of myopia and to evaluate the risk factors for myopia in population-based studies.

Recent findings: The prevalences of myopia vary across populations of different regions and ethnicities. In population-based studies on children, the prevalence of myopia has been reported to be higher in urban areas and Chinese ethnicity. The regional and racial difference is not so obvious in adult populations aged over 40 years. More time spent on near work, less time outdoors, higher educational level and parental history of myopia have been reported to increase the risk of myopia.

Conclusions: Environmental factors play a crucial role in myopia development. The effect of gene-environment interaction on the aetiology of myopia is still controversial with inconsistent findings in different studies. A relatively hyperopic periphery can stimulate compensating eye growth in the centre. Longitudinal cohort studies or randomized clinical trials of community-based health behaviour interventions should be conducted to further clarify the aetiology of myopia.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Age Distribution
  • Animals
  • Educational Status
  • Global Health
  • Humans
  • Life Style
  • Macaca
  • Myopia / epidemiology*
  • Myopia / etiology
  • Myopia / physiopathology
  • Prevalence
  • Risk Factors
  • Visual Fields / physiology