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Myopia is more than nearsightedness or the inability to see distant objects clearly.2 So what is the definition of myopia? Here are four key facts to know:
  1. Myopia is a chronic, progressive disease that leads to the eye growing too long.2-4
  2. This lengthening of the eye changes the eye’s ability to focus on distant objects, resulting in blurry vision.2
  3. Myopia may also increase the risk of permanent vision loss due to the development of cataracts, glaucoma, retinal detachment, myopic macular degeneration, or other eye conditions.6
  4. Lifestyle changes, including more near work* and less outdoor time, are contributing to more children than ever before developing myopia at an early age.7,8

Myopia in Children – Why It’s A Growing Problem

Previously, myopia was thought of as simply nearsightedness or blurry distance vision.2 We now know it’s so much more. Myopia is a chronic, progressive disease that is affecting children at an alarming pace.2-4 The number of people with myopia has nearly doubled over the past 20 years.5 It’s estimated that about one in three children in the U.S are affected by myopia.1

Johnson & Johnson Vision has invested decades in understanding myopia and developing technology to address this condition that threatens to take away our most treasured sense: Sight.
Levels of Myopia Chart - Shows the incremental increase from Pre-Myopia to Myopia, to High Myopia in 12 children old or younger.

Why Every Change in Eyesight Matters

While high levels of myopia tend to increase the risk of sight-threatening complications later in adulthood, there is no safe level of myopia.2 Even lower levels of myopia are associated with an increased risk of eye issues.

For example, every diopter (one step) increase in myopia raises the risk of myopic macular degeneration, a sight-threatening eye disease, by 67 percent.9
Young Asian boy smiling, representing Take the Myopia Assessment Quiz.

Is My Child at Risk of Myopia?

Take our Myopia Assessment Quiz to better understand what causes myopia and the risk factors associated with myopia in children. As a parent, you’ll receive a general estimate of what risk level your child may have for developing myopia.TAKE THE QUIZ

What Can I Do About My Child’s Myopia?

Once a child develops myopia, it is very likely to worsen as they grow, resulting in the need for higher and higher prescriptions for glasses or contact lenses.10
  • Every child should be monitored for myopia from an early age, with annual comprehensive eye exams starting by the age of 5.11,12
  • A comprehensive eye exam – which is much more extensive than an annual vision screening at school – can detect the early signs of myopia, as well as more than 270 systemic and chronic diseases.13
  • If a child has myopia, treatments are available.

Lifestyle Changes for Myopia

Simple lifestyle changes may help reduce the likelihood of developing myopia.

More time outdoors

Research shows that spending at least two hours per day outdoors can help reduce myopia onset or slow its progression.14

Less near work

Some experts recommend spending less than three hours per day on homework and reading.15

Follow the 20-20-20 rule

Every 20 minutes, look 20 feet away for 20 seconds.16,17
* Focusing on digital screens, books, and other up-close objects.

1. Vitale S et al. Increased prevalence of myopia in the US, 1971-1972, 1999-2004. Arch Ophthalmol. 2009;127(12)1632-1639.
2. Flitcroft DI. The complex interactions of retinal, optical and environmental factors in myopia aetiology. Prog Retin Eye Res. 2012;31(6):622-660.
3. Donovan L, Sankaridurg P, Ho A et al Myopia progression rates in urban children wearing single-vision spectacles. OVS 2012;89(1):27-32.
4. 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.
5. Holden BA, Fricke TR, Wilson DA, et al. Global Prevalence of Myopia and High Myopia and Temporal Trends from 2000 through 2050. Ophthalmology 2016;123:1036-42.
6. 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.
7. Huang HM, Chang DS, Wu PC. The Association between Near Work Activities and Myopia in Children-A Systematic Review and Meta-Analysis. PLoS One. 2015 Oct 20;10(10):e0140419.
8. 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. doi: 10.1016/j.ophtha.2020.01.054.
9. Bullimore MA, Brennan NA. Myopia-control: Why Each Diopter Matters. Optom Vis Sci 2019;96:463-5.
10. Mutti DO, Hayes JR, Mitchell Gl et al Refractive error, axial length, and relative peripheral refractive error before and after the onset of myopia. Invest Ophthalmol Vis Sci. 2007 Jun;48(6):2510-9.
11. American Optometric Association. Annual Comprehensive Eye Exam.
12. 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.
13. Systemic Conditions with Ocular and Visual Manifestations. American Optometric Association. December 2019.
14. Wu PC, Chen CT, Lin KK, et al. Myopia Prevention and Outdoor Light Intensity in a School-Based Cluster Randomized Trial. Ophthalmology 2018;125:1239-50.
15. Huang PC, Hsiao YC, Tsai CY, Tsai DC, Chen CW, Hsu CC, Huang SC, Lin MH, Liou YM. Protective behaviours of near work and time outdoors in myopia prevalence and progression in myopic children: a 2-year prospective population study. Br J Ophthalmol. 2020 Jul;104(7):956-961.
16. Johnson & Johnson Vision. Schedule an Eye Exam: Tips to Prioritize Your Eyes At Home.
17. He M, Xiang F, Zeng Y, et al. Effect of time spent outdoors at school on the development of myopia among children in China a randomized clinical trial. JAMA - Journal of the American Medical Association. 2015;314(11):1142-1148.

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