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To systematically review epidemiologic and laboratory studies on the etiology of high myopia and its links to pathologic myopia.Regular Medline searches have been performed for the past 20 years, using “myopia” as the basic search term. The abstracts of all articles have been scrutinized for relevance, and where necessary, translations of articles in languages other than English were obtained.Systematic review shows that there is an epidemic of myopia and high myopia in young adults in East and Southeast Asia, with similar but smaller trends in other parts of the world. This suggests an impending epidemic of pathologic myopia. High myopia in young adults in East and Southeast Asia is now predominantly associated with environmental factors, rather than genetic background. Recent clinical trials show that the onset of myopia can be reduced by increasing the time children spend outdoors, and methods to slow the progression of myopia are now available.High myopia is now largely associated with environmental factors that have caused the epidemic of myopia in East and Southeast Asia. An important clinical question is whether the pathologic consequences of acquired high myopia are similar to those associated with classic genetic high myopia. Increased time outdoors can be used to slow the onset of myopia, whereas methods for slowing progression are now available clinically. These approaches should enable the current epidemics of myopia and high myopia to be turned around, preventing an explosion of pathologic myopia.