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

  • The goal of this study was to examine whether the prevalence of myopia in the United States had changed during the 30 years between the 1971-1972 and 1999-2004.

  • The 1971-1972 National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey (NHNES) provided the earliest nationally representative estimates for US myopia prevalence; myopia was diagnosed by an algorithm using either lensometry, pinhole visual acuity, and presenting visual acuity (for presenting visual acuity > or =20/40) or retinoscopy (for presenting visual acuity < or =20/50).

  • Using a similar method for diagnosing myopia, the sutdy examined data from the 1999-2004 (NHNES) to determine whether myopia prevalence had changed during the 30 years between the 2 surveys.

  • 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].

  • The study concluded that 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.

  • It also concludes that identifying modifiable risk factors for myopia could lead to the development of cost-effective interventional strategies.

Publication date

April 8, 2019


Arch Ophthalmol

Sponsor Institution

The National Center for Health Statistics, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and Intramural Research Program of the National Eye Institute, National Institutes of Health.


Vitale S, Sperduto RD, Ferris FL 3rd.
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