We estimate that myopia and high myopia will show a significant increase in prevalence globally, affecting nearly 5 billion people and 1 billion people, respectively, by 2050. These have important implications for planning comprehensive eye care services, including refractive services such as spectacles and managing and preventing myopic-related ocular complications and vision loss among people with high myopia.

Potential Consequences

Uncorrected refractive error (URE) will increase substantially

Cataract and Glaucoma-Fraction attributable to myopia likely to increase

Blindness and vision impairment due to myopic macular degeneration (MMD) and myopia retinopathy in adults will increase substantially

Resources: Need for refractive and specialist services (spectacles, contact lenses) for managing myopia-related complications will increase

GLOBAL COST OF DISTANCE URE $202 billion per year in 2009 2,3

1. Cataract 38.6% 33.4%
2. Uncorrected Refractive Error 19.9% 20.9%
3. Macular Degeneration 4.9% 6.6%
4. Glaucoma 4.4% 6.6%
5. Diabetic Retinopathy 2.1% 2.6%
6. Trachoma 2.8% 1.4%
7. Other Causes 27.4% 28.6%
Moderate to severe vision impairment19902010
1. Uncorrected Refractive Error 51.1% 52.9%
2. Cataract 25.6% 18.4%
3. Macular Degeneration 1.9% 3.1%
4. Glaucoma 1.2% 2.2%
5. Diabetic Retinopathy 1.3% 1.9%
6. Trachoma 1.3% 0.7%
7. Other Causes 17.6% 20.8%


Early intervention and detection in children with myopia is the key to reducing the impact of myopia on their long term ocular health and improving their future lives. Short term benefits of addressing myopia includes improved visual function4 that can positively impact learning outcomes and has flow on effects on economic productivity.


1. Bourne RR, Stevens GA, White RA, Smith JL, Flaxman SR, Price H, et al. Causes of vision loss worldwide, 1990-2010: a systematic analysis. The Lancet Global Health (Internet). 2013 13 November 2013.
Available here

2. Smith TST, Frick KD, Holden BA, Fricke TR, Naidoo KS, ‘Potential lost productivity resulting from the global burden of uncorrected refractive error’ in Bulletin of the World Health Organization, 2009; 87
3. Fricke, T. et al. Global cost of correcting vision impairment from uncorrected refractive error. Bulletin of the World Health Organization 90, 728-738 (2012).
4. Congdon N, Wang Y, Song Y, Choi K, Zhang M, Zhou Z, et al. Visual disability, visual function, and myopia among rural chinese secondary school children: the Xichang Pediatric Refractive Error Study (X-PRES)-report 1. Invest Ophthalmol Vis Sci. 2008;49(7):2888-94.).