Prevalence of Refractive Error in Europe: The European Eye Epidemiology (E3) Consortium

  • The aim of the present study was to estimate the prevalence of refractive error in adults across Europe. Refractive data (mean spherical equivalent) collected between 1990 and 2013 from fifteen population-based cohort and cross-sectional studies of the European Eye Epidemiology (E3) Consortium were combined in a random effects meta-analysis stratified by 5-year age intervals and gender.

  • Meta-analysis of refractive error was performed for 61,946 individuals from fifteen studies with median age ranging from 44 to 81 and minimal ethnic variation (98 % European ancestry). The age-standardised prevalences were: myopia 30.6 %, high myopia 2.7 %, hyperopia 25.2 % , and astigmatism 23.9 %.

  • Age-specific estimates revealed a high prevalence of myopia in younger participants 47.2 % in 25–29 years-olds.

  • Refractive error affects just over a half of European adults.

  • The greatest burden of refractive error is due to myopia, with high prevalence rates in young adults.

  • Using the 2010 European population estimates, we estimate there are 227.2 million people with myopia across Europe.

Publication date

March 28, 2019


European Journal of Epidemiology

Sponsor Institution

Multiple funding organizations


Katie M. Williams, Virginie J. M. Verhoeven, [...], and Christopher J. Hammond
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