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Global Variations and Time Trends in the Prevalence of Childhood Myopia, A Systematic Review and Quantitative Meta-Analysis: Implications for Aetiology and Early Prevention


Alicja R Rudnicka,1 Venediktos V Kapetanakis, Andrea K Wathern, Nicola S Logan, Bernard Gilmartin, Peter H Whincup, Derek G Cook, Christopher G Owen


BUPA Foundation




British Journal of Ophthalmology


  • The aim of this review was to quantify the global variation in childhood myopia prevalence over time taking account of demographic and study design factors.

  • A systematic review identified population-based surveys with estimates of childhood myopia prevalence published by February 2015.

  • Increase in myopia prevalence with age varied by ethnicity. East Asians showed the highest prevalence, reaching 69% (95% credible intervals (CrI) 61% to 77%) at 15 years of age (86% among Singaporean-Chinese).

  • Blacks in Africa had the lowest prevalence; 5.5% at 15 years (95% CrI 3% to 9%).

  • Time trends in myopia prevalence over the last decade were small in whites, increased by 23% in East Asians, with a weaker increase among South Asians.

  • Children from urban environments have 2.6 times the odds of myopia compared with those from rural environments.

  • In whites and East Asians sex differences emerge at about 9 years of age; by late adolescence girls are twice as likely as boys to be myopic.

  • Marked ethnic differences in age-specific prevalence of myopia exist.

  • Rapid increases in myopia prevalence over time, particularly in East Asians, combined with a universally higher risk of myopia in urban settings, suggest that environmental factors play an important role in myopia development, which may offer scope for prevention.