What is myopia?

Myopia, often called nearsightedness, is commonly understood as the inability to see far away objects clearly without glasses or contact lenses. It is, in fact, much more than that.3Myopia is a chronic, progressive disease where continued eye growth not only worsens distance vision, it also increases future risk of sight-threatening complications.3,4,5,6


The exact causes of the increase in myopia amongst recent generations have been unproven, There are a number of risk factors associated with the onset and progression of myopia, including:
  • Age of the patient when myopia began to develop4,13
  • Minimal time outdoors (< 2 hrs/day)14
  • Near work for longer duration or at a shorter working distance5,6
  • Myopic parent(s)7 

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Myopia is a growing global epidemic:

Did you know that the population with myopia has nearly doubled over the past 20 years? And that by 2050 nearly half of the world’s population will be myopic.8
The prevalence among young adults is reported to be above 80% in many Asian regions,2 and 50% in the U.S. and parts of Europe.9,10 And those rates continue to rise.

Myopia can increase the risk of sight-threatening complications1

By 2050, nearly 1 billion people are expected to have high myopia (a prescription of -5D or higher).8
Risk of visual impairment from myopia, especially high myopia, stems from having a longer eye length and increased likelihood of developing myopic macular degeneration.1,11(image shown is a simulation of visual impairment resulting from macular degeneration)

All children should be monitored

There is no safe level of myopia.3 Research indicates that the earlier a child becomes myopic, the higher the risk of myopia progression4 and developing high myopia12
 1. Haarman AEG, Enthoven CA, Tideman JWL, Tedja MS, Verhoeven VJM, Klaver CCW. The Complications of Myopia: A Review and Meta-Analysis. Invest Ophthalmol Vis Sci. 2020 Apr 9;61(4):49. doi: 10.1167/iovs.61.4.49. PMID: 32347918; PMCID: PMC7401976.  2. Ding BY, Shih YF, Lin LLK, et al . Myopia among schoolchildren in East Asia and Singapore. Surv Ophthalmol. 2017 62(5):677-697.  3. Flitcroft DI The complex interactions of retinal, optical and environmental factors in myopia aetiology. Progress in Retinal and Eye Research. 2012 31(6):622-660  4. Donovan L, Sankaridurg P, Ho A et al Myopia progression rates in urban children wearing single-vision spectacles. OVS 2012;89(1):27-32. 5. Huang HM, Chang DST, Wu PC. The association between near work activities and myopia in children - A systematic review and meta-analysis. PLoS ONE. 2015;10(10).  6. Wen L, Cao Y, Cheng Q, Li X, Pan L, Li L, Zhu H, Lan W, Yang Z. Objectively measured near work, outdoor exposure and myopia in children. Br J Ophthalmol. 2020 Nov;104(11):1542-1547. 7. Tedja MS et al. IMI - Myopia Genetics Report. Invest Ophthalmol Vis Sci 2019;60:M89-M105.  8. Holden BA et al. Global Prevalence of Myopia and High Myopia and Temporal Trends from 2000 through 2050. Ophthalmol 2016;123:1036-42. 9. Vitale S et al. Prevalence of refractive error in the United States, 1999-2004. Arch Ophthalmol. 2008;126:1111-9.  10. Williams K et al. Increasing prevalence of myopia in Europe and the impact of education. Ophthalmology. 2015 Jul 1;122(7):1489-97.  11. Tideman JW, Snabel MC, Tedja MS et al. Association of Axial Length With Risk of Uncorrectable Visual Impairment for Europeans With Myopia. JAMA. Ophthalmol. 2016 Dec 1;134(12):1355-1363  12. Hu Y, Ding X, Guo X, Chen Y, Zhang J, He M. Association of Age at Myopia Onset With Risk of High Myopia in Adulthood in a 12-Year Follow-up of a Chinese Cohort. JAMA Ophthalmol. 2020;138(11):1129–1134. 13. Chua SY, Sabanayagam C, Cheung YB, et al. Age of onset of myopia predicts risk of high myopia in later childhood in myopic Singapore children. Ophthalmic Physiol Opt. 2016; 36:388-94. 14. Wu PC, Chen CT, Chang LC, Niu YZ, Chen ML, Liao LL, Rose K, Morgan IG. Increased Time Outdoors Is Followed by Reversal of the Long-Term Trend to Reduced Visual Acuity in Taiwan Primary School Students. Ophthalmology. 2020 Nov;127(11):1462-1469.


Measuring and monitoring eye health, even from an early age, is highly recommended.3 To have the biggest impact on managing myopia, it is important to act early. A regular annual comprehensive eye exam is highly recommended.If you or your child is diagnosed with myopia, there are several common solutions you can consider. In children, it’s common to focus on solutions that are a fit for his/her lifestyle. It’s important to discuss myopia and available solutions with your eye care professional, to determine the right treatment*.

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