Growing prevalence

Evidence is mounting that myopia is growing around the world, with a recent study estimating that on average, 30% of the world is currently myopic and by 2050, almost 50% will be myopic, that’s a staggering 5 billion people.1 The hot spots of myopia are East and South East Asia where countries such as South Korea,2 Taiwan,3 Singapore,4 China5 and Japan6 have a prevalence of myopia of 80 to 90 %. But myopia prevalence is rising and the USA has reported a prevalence of 42%, almost doubling in three decades.7

Global Snapshot
This is a snapshot of the rate of myopia seen in children based on recent studies. (Right). More recent studies indicate that myopic macular degeneration is becoming a serious ocular health issue, where it has been reported one of the major causes of permanent blindness in Rotterdam,8 Copenhagen,9 China,10 Chinese Taipei,11 and Japan.12

Key findings

  • Almost 5 billion myopes by 2050
  • Almost 1 billion high myopes by 2050
  • Myopia to become a leading cause of permanent blindness worldwide
  • Significant implications for planning comprehensive eye care services globally
Sources from image stats: McCullough et al. 2016 (UK)15

Future Epidemic

Rising Prevalence of Myopia: 2010 to 2050

The recent Sydney Myopia Study found 31% of 17 year olds were myopic,13 double the prevalence reported by the Blue Mountain Eye Study more than a decade ago.14 But in the future, even nations which have little myopia today, will be severely affected.1 And so good future planning of eye care service and delivery will be required.


1. Holden BA, Fricke TR, Wilson DA, Jong M, Naidoo KS, Sankaridurg P, Wong TY, Naduvilath TJ, Resnikoff S, Global Prevalence of Myopia and High Myopia and Temporal Trends from 2000 through 2050, Ophthalmology, May 2016 Volume 123, Issue 5, Pages 1036–1042.
2. Jung SK, Lee JH, Kakizaki H, Jee D. Prevalence of myopia and its association with body stature and educational level in 19-year-old male conscripts in seoul, South Korea. Investigative ophthalmology & visual science 2012;53:5579-83.
3. Lin LL, Shih YF, Hsiao CK, Chen CJ. Prevalence of myopia in Taiwanese schoolchildren: 1983 to 2000. Annals of the Academy of Medicine, Singapore 2004;33:27-33.
4. Quek TP, Chua CG, Chong CS, et al. Prevalence of refractive errors in teenage high school students in Singapore. Ophthalmic & physiological optics : the journal of the British College of Ophthalmic Opticians 2004;24:47-55.
5. He M, Zeng J, Liu Y, Xu J, Pokharel GP, Ellwein LB. Refractive error and visual impairment in urban children in southern china. Investigative ophthalmology & visual science 2004;45:793-9.
6. Matsumura H, Hirai H. Prevalence of myopia and refractive changes in students from 3 to 17 years of age. Survey of ophthalmology 1999;44 Suppl 1:S109-15.
7. Vitale S, Sperduto RD, Ferris FL, 3rd. Increased prevalence of myopia in the United States between 1971-1972 and 1999-2004. Archives of ophthalmology 2009;127:1632-9.
8.Verhoeven VJ, Wong KT, Buitendijk GH, Hofman A, Vingerling JR, Klaver CC. Visual consequences of refractive errors in the general population. Ophthalmology. 2015;122(1):101-9.
9. Buch H, Vinding T, La Cour M, Appleyard M, Jensen GB, Nielsen NV. Prevalence and causes of visual impairment and blindness among 9980 Scandinavian adults: the Copenhagen City Eye Study. Ophthalmology. 2004;111(1):53-61.
10. Tang Y, Wang X, Wang J, Huang W, Gao Y, Luo Y, et al. Prevalence and Causes of Visual Impairment in a Chinese Adult Population: The Taizhou Eye Study. Ophthalmology. 2015.
11. Tsai IL, Woung LC, Tsai CY, Kuo LL, Liu SW, Lin S, et al. Trends in blind and low vision registrations in Taipei City. Eur J Ophthalmol. 2008;18(1):118-24.
12. Iwase A, Araie M, Tomidokoro A, Yamamoto T, Shimizu H, Kitazawa Y, et al. Prevalence and causes of low vision and blindness in a Japanese adult population: the Tajimi Study. Ophthalmology. 2006;113(8):1354-62.
13. Attebo K, Ivers RQ, Mitchell P. Refractive errors in an older population: the Blue Mountains Eye Study. Ophthalmology 1999;106:1066-72.
14. French AN, Morgan IG, Burlutsky G, Mitchell P, Rose KA. Prevalence and 5- to 6-year incidence and progression of myopia and hyperopia in Australian schoolchildren. Ophthalmology 2013;120:1482-91.
15. McCullough SJ, O'Donoghue L, Saunders KJ. Six Year Refractive Change among White Children and Young Adults: Evidence for Significant Increase in Myopia among White Uk Children. PLoS One 2016;11:e0146332.