Epidemiology of Myopia

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Myopia is not a simple refractive error, but an eyesight-threatening disease. There is a high prevalence of myopia, 80% to 90%, in young adults in East Asia; myopia has become the leading cause of blindness in this area. As the myopic population increases globally, the severity of its impact is predicted. Approximately one fifth of the myopic population has high myopia (≥−6 diopters), which results in irreversible vision loss such as retinal detachment, choroidal neovascularization, cataracts, glaucoma, and macular atrophy. The increasing prevalence of school myopia in the past few decades may be a result of gene-environment interactions. However, earlier school myopia onset would accompany faster myopia progression and greater risk of high myopia later in life. Recently, there have been effective interventions to delay the onset of myopia, such as outdoor activity and decreasing the duration of near work. Hyperopia (≤0.5 diopters) is a predictor of myopia. Pharmacological agents and optic interventions such as low-concentration atropine and orthokeratology may slow progression in myopic children. Novel surgeries and anti–vascular endothelial growth factor drugs could deal with some myopic complications. From available evidence, the prevention, control, and treatment of myopia seem to be promising. However, to reduce the impact of myopia in future decades, more work and effort are still needed, including that by governments and intercountry eye health organizations.

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