Change in the prevalence of myopia in Australian middle-aged adults across 20 years

Clin Exp Ophthalmol. 2021 Dec;49(9):1039-1047. doi: 10.1111/ceo.13980. Epub 2021 Aug 19.


Background: The prevalence of myopia is increasing globally including in Europe and parts of Asia but Australian data are lacking. This study aim described the change in myopia prevalence in middle-aged Australian adults over approximately a 20-year period.

Methods: Two contemporary Western Australian studies (conducted in mid-late 2010s): the coastal-regional Busselton Healthy Ageing Study (BHAS) and the urban Gen1 of the Raine Study (G1RS) were compared to two earlier studies (early-mid 1990s) in Australia: the urban Blue Mountains Eye Study (BMES) and urban/regional Melbourne Visual Impairment Project (MVIP). Refractive error was measured by autorefraction, vertometry, or subjective refraction. Participants (49-70 years) of European descent without self-reported/diagnosed cataract, corneal disease, or refractive or corneal surgery were included.

Results: After exclusions, data were available from 2217, 1760, 700, 2987 and 756 participants from BMES, urban MVIP, regional MVIP, BHAS, and G1RS, respectively. The mean age ranged from 57.1 ± 4.6 years in the G1RS to 60.1 ± 6.0 years in the BMES; 44-48% of participants were male. When stratified by location, the contemporary urban G1RS cohort had a higher age-standardised myopia prevalence than the urban MVIP and BMES cohorts (29.2%, 16.4%, and 23.9%, p < 0.001). The contemporary coastal-regional BHAS had a higher age-standardised myopia prevalence than the regional MVIP cohort (19.4% vs. 13.8%, p = 0.001).

Conclusions: We report an increase in myopia prevalence in older adults in Australia born after World War ll compared to cohorts born before, accounting for urban/regional location. The prevalence of myopia remains relatively low in middle-aged Australian adults.

Keywords: Australia; adults; epidemiology; myopia.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Aged
  • Australia / epidemiology
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Myopia* / epidemiology
  • Prevalence
  • Refraction, Ocular
  • Refractive Errors*