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Predicting Costs and Disability from the Myopia Epidemic – A Worldwide Economic and Social Model


Chantal Holy, Ketan Kulkarni, Noel A Brennan





Investigative Ophthalmology & Visual Science


  • East Asia and many developed countries are experiencing an unprecedented rise in myopia prevalence. 

  • Whereas symptoms of myopia are most often correctable, the underlying anatomical characteristic - an elongated eyeball – remains and is associated with increased risks of nuclear cataract, open-angle glaucoma, retinal detachment and myopic retinopathy. 

  • This study provides a global social and economic impact model of myopia and associated risks.

  • Prevalence of myopia, high myopia and associated risks for nuclear cataract (NC), open-angle glaucoma (OAG), retinal detachment (RD) and myopic retinopathy (MR) were modeled using published evidence, from 2018 to 2050, for major economies (US, key European markets, China and key Asian markets). 

  • Risk for moderate and severe visual impairment (MSVI) and blindness resulting from NC, OAG, MR, RD and uncorrected refractive error (URE) were obtained from published literature and population growth with MSVI and blindness were modeled. 

  • Cost estimates were obtained from claims and healthcare databases (for US and Europe) and from primary research in Asian markets. 

  • Years lost to disability (YLD) was estimated using 2011 WHO utilities for MSVI and blindness, and lost productivity was calculated by evaluating lost per-capita GPD for every YLD. 

  • For comparative purposes, all costs were expressed in constant US$ 2018 consumer-price index.

  • In 2018, of all patients worldwide with blindness and MSVI, 47% and 32% respectively were estimated to be associated with myopia. 

  • These estimates increased to 61% and 35% of entire MSVI and blind populations by 2050. 

  • Focusing on China, in 2018, 34.2 million and 3.4 million people were estimated as having myopia-associated MSVI (66% of entire MSVI population) and blindness (56% of all blind population), respectively. 

  • By 2050, these numbers were expected to increase to 56 million (79% of all MSVI) and 7.4 million (64% of all blind population), respectively. 

  • Worldwide direct, productivity and social security costs exceeded US$ 670 BN in 2018 and were estimated at US$ 1.7 Trillion by 2050.

  • Between 2018 and 2050, worldwide blindness associated with myopia will triple and estimates of total societal cost associated with myopia will reach US$ 1.7 Trillion. 

  • Compared to costs of other major comorbidities in the US in 2018, myopia already ranks 11th, ahead of congestive heart failure, lung and breast cancer.