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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 that1.Myopia is a chronic, progressive disease where continued eye growth not only worsens distance vision, it also increases future risk of sight-threatening complications1-4.


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 develop2
  • Minimal time outdoors (< 2 hrs/day)5
  • Near work for longer duration or at a shorter working distance6,7
  • Myopic parent(s)8

Know Taco Image


Blurry image of child reading book (blurry vision is a symptom of myopia).

Myopia is a growing global epidemic17

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 myopic9.
The prevalence among young adults is reported to be above 80% in many Asian regions10, and 50% in the U.S. and parts of Europe11,12. And those rates continue to rise.
View of a green field with dark spot in center, representing vision impairment caused by myopic macular degeneration.

Myopia can increase the risk of sight-threatening complications14

By 2050, nearly 1 billion people are expected to have high myopia (a prescription of -5D or higher)9.
Risk of visual impairment from myopia, especially high myopia, stems from having a longer eye length and increased likelihood of developing myopic macular degeneration13,14.(image shown is a simulation of visual impairment resulting from macular degeneration)
Boy wearing glasses who may have myopia, climbing a jungle gym outside.

All children should be monitored

There is no safe level of myopia1. Research indicates that the earlier a child becomes myopic, the higher the risk of myopia progression2,15 and developing high myopia16
 1. Flitcroft DI. The complex interactions of retinal, optical and environmental factors in myopia aetiology. Prog Retin Eye Res. 2012;31(6):622-660.  2. Donovan L, Sankaridurg P, Ho A et al Myopia progression rates in urban children wearing single-vision spectacles. OVS 2012;89(1):27-32.  3. Pärssinen O, Kauppinen M. Risk factors for high myopia: a 22-year follow-up study from childhood to adulthood. Acta Ophthalmologica. 2019;97(5):510-518.  4. Flitcroft DI et al. IMI Defining and classifying myopia: a proposed set of standards for clinical and epidemiologic studies. Investigative ophthalmology and vision science 2019;60M20-30. 5. Wu PC et al. Increased Time Outdoors Is Followed by Reversal of the Long-Term Trend to Reduced Visual Acuity in Taiwan Primary School Students. Ophthalmology. 2020 Feb 8:S0161-6420(20)30139-1.  6. Huang et al. The Association between Near Work Activities and Myopia in Children: A Systematic Review and Meta-Analysis. PLoS One 2015;10:e0140419. 7. Wen L et al. Objectively measured near work, outdoor exposure and myopia in children. British Journal of Ophthalmology Published Online First: 19 February 2020. doi: 10.1136/bjophthalmol-2019-315258.  8. Tedja MS et al. IMI - Myopia Genetics Report. Invest Ophthalmol Vis Sci 2019;60:M89-M105. 9. Holden BA Fricke TR Wilson DA Jong M Naidoo K et al Global Prevalence of Myopia and High Myopia and Temporal Trends from 2000 to 2050. Ophthalmol 2016,123(5):1036-1042.  10.Ding, Bo-Yuan, et al. "Myopia among schoolchildren in East Asia and Singapore." Survey of ophthalmology 62.5 (2017): 677-697.  11. Vitale S et al. Prevalence of refractive error in the United States, 1999-2004. Arch Ophthalmol. 2008;126:1111-9.  12. Williams K et al. Increasing prevalence of myopia in Europe and the impact of education. Ophthalmology. 2015 Jul 1;122(7):1489-97. 13. 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. 14. Haarman AEG, Enthoven CA, Tideman JWL, et al The Complications of Myopia: A Review and Meta-Analysis. Invest Ophthalmol Vis Sci. 2020 Apr 9;61(4):49. 15. Chua SY et al. Age of Onset of Myopia Predicts Risk of High Myopia in Later Childhood in Myopic Singapore Children. Opthal Physiol Opt 2016;36:388-94. 16. Hu Y, Ding X, Guo X, et al. Association of Age at Myopia Onset with Risk of High Myopia In Adulthood In a 12-Year Follow-up of a Chinese Cohort. JAMA Opthalmol 2020. 17. Morgan IG, French AN, Ashby RS, Guo X, Ding X, He M, Rose KA. The epidemics of myopia: Aetiology and prevention. Prog Retin Eye Res. 2018 Jan;62:134-149.