There is little information directly relating ocular refraction and nearwork habits in representative human populations. Ocular refraction (diopters), nearwork (hours per day), and education (years) were therefore measured for 957 persons comprising 80% of the population aged 5 years and above of 3 communities in western Newfoundland. Refraction was moderately, consistently and significantly correlated with nearwork from ages 5 to 60, and remained so after adjustments for the association of refraction and nearwork levels with age, sex and education. Multiple regression coefficients relating refraction to nearwork decreased from -0.43 D/h at ages 5-14 years to -0.22 D/h at ages 60 years and up. The magnitude of this association, and its consistency and persistence over a wide age range, suggest that large amounts of nearwork in childhood may contribute to the prevalence of clinical myopia.