Gene Expression

The myopia epidemic!

Increased Prevalence of Myopia in the United States Between 1971-1972 and 1999-2004:


Using the 1971-1972 method, the estimated prevalence of myopia in persons aged 12 to 54 years was significantly higher in 1999-2004 than in 1971-1972 (41.6% vs 25.0%, respectively; P < .001). Prevalence estimates were higher in 1999-2004 than in 1971-1972 for black individuals (33.5% vs 13.0%, respectively; P < .001) and white individuals (43.0% vs 26.3%, respectively; P < .001) and for all levels of myopia severity (>-2.0 diopters [D]: 17.5% vs 13.4%, respectively [P < .001]; -2.0 to >-7.9 D: 22.4% vs 11.4%, respectively [P < .001]; -7.9 D: 1.6% vs 0.2%, respectively [P < .001]). Conclusions

When using similar methods for each period, the prevalence of myopia in the United States appears to be substantially higher in 1999-2004 than 30 years earlier. Identifying modifiable risk factors for myopia could lead to the development of cost-effective interventional strategies.

Here are some tables:


Citation: Susan Vitale; Robert D. Sperduto; Frederick L. Ferris, III, Increased Prevalence of Myopia in the United States Between 1971-1972 and 1999-2004, Arch Ophthalmol. 2009;127(12):1632-1639.


  1. #1 Monado
    December 18, 2009

    I’m not claiming causation, but I have read that myopia in children is commoner the more light they have in their bedrooms at night.

  2. #2 Lassi Hippeläinen
    December 18, 2009

    @Monado: it has been observed that myopia is more common in children that do not spend time outdoors. The more light there is, the less myopic the children will be.

  3. #3 Tristram Brelstaff
    December 18, 2009

    Monado: from the Wikipedia page on myopia:

    Although one initial study indicated a strong association between myopia and nightlight exposure, recent research has found none.

    It also gives several references.

  4. #4 ziel
    December 18, 2009

    Collateral damage from the Flynn Effect?

  5. #5 nate
    December 19, 2009

    Myopia is associated with high insulin levels, so this makes sense.

  6. #6 Blackbird
    December 19, 2009

    The New Scientist run an interesting article about the causes behind myopia a few weeks ago. They reported some compelling very recent research which found a strong negative association between hours spent playing outdoors and myopia.

  7. #7 red rabbit
    December 20, 2009

    I wonder how much of this (like the autism “epidemic”) is down to detection.

    I’m severely myopic and knew it from a young age. However, in my rural community, there was no education for parents on vision care. I got my first pair of glasses at age 16, when I was old enough to sort it out for myself.

    Parents these days seem to be better informed and vision care is much more available- even in such rural areas.

  8. #8 Steve Sailer
    December 22, 2009

    This would be a case where it might be more useful to use the myopia records at a single school. Take a small town elementary school where the population has been relatively stable over time and see whether myopia has gone up. Then repeat at a few other schools.

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