Approximately one-third of people older than 40 have vision disturbances

April 12, 2004

CHICAGO - Refractive errors (inability of the eye to focus properly) affect about one-third of people 40 years and older in the United States and Western Europe, and one-fifth of Australians 40 or older, according to an article in the April issue of The Archives of Ophthalmology, a theme issue on blindness, and one of the JAMA/Archives journals.

Refractive errors prevent the eyes from focusing correctly and cause blurry vision. Myopia (nearsightedness) and hyperopia (farsightedness) are examples of specific types of refractive errors. Usually, these errors can be easily corrected with glasses, contact lenses or refractive surgery. However, the high prevalence of refractive errors and the costs of correcting these errors make these conditions a substantial public health and economic problem in many parts of the world.

John H. Kempen, M.D., Ph.D., of the Wilmer Eye Institute at The Johns Hopkins Medical Institutions, Baltimore, and a member of The Eye Diseases Prevalence Research Group, and colleagues pooled data from six studies with a combined total of 29,281 participants. The researchers applied the data from the six studies to population data for the year 2000 and projected population data for 2020 from the United States, Western Europe and Australia.

The researchers found the estimated crude prevalence for moderate hyperopia to severe hyperopia was:
The estimated prevalence of myopia was: Projected prevalence rates for 2020 were similar.

"Pooled data from the participating population-based eye studies, conducted in persons 40 years or older, indicate that the crude prevalence of myopia is the highest of any eye disorder in this age group, affecting about one in four persons in the United States and Western Europe, and about one in six Australians," the authors write. "Approximately one of six persons with myopia - one of every 24 persons in the general U.S. and Western European population 40 years or older - has myopia of -5 diopters or less [mild to moderate myopia] and may be at risk of pathologic complications of high myopia."
(Arch Ophthalmol. 2004;122:495-505. Available post-embargo at

Editor's Note: This study was supported by a contract from the National Eye Institute, Bethesda, Md. Additional support was provided by a grant (Dr. Kempen) from the National Eye Institute. The Eye Diseases Prevalence Research Group is an initiative sponsored by the National Eye Institute of the National Institutes of Health (Bethesda, Md.) with additional funding from Prevent Blindness America (Schaumburg, Ill.) that seeks to estimate the prevalence rates of major eye diseases.

To contact John H. Kempen, M.D., Ph.D., call John Lazarou at 410-502-8902.

For more information, contact JAMA/Archives Media Relations at 312-464-JAMA (5262) or e-mail .

The JAMA Network Journals

Related Myopia Articles from Brightsurf:

Six-Year MiSight contact lens study: 23% of eyes showed no additional myopia progression
The latest findings from the long-running CooperVision MiSight 1 day clinical study provide new insights about myopia management and the proven efficacy of the specially designed contact lens.

Multifocal contact lenses slow myopia progression in children
Children wearing multifocal contact lenses had slower progression of their myopia, according to results from a clinical trial funded by the National Eye Institute, part of the National Institutes of Health.

Young nearsighted kids benefit from bifocal contact lenses, study shows
Bifocal contact lenses aren't just for aging eyes anymore. In nearsighted kids as young as 7 years old, multifocal contact lenses with a heavy dose of added reading power can dramatically slow further progression of myopia, new research has found.

New paper helps advance myopia management strategies
'Myopia Control 2020: Where are we and where are we heading?' has been published in Ophthalmic & Physiological Optics, the peer-reviewed journal of The College of Optometrists, giving eye care practitioners a comprehensive analysis of evidence-based information needed to help manage myopia.

Genetic processes that determine short-sightedness discovered by researchers
Three previously unknown genetic mechanisms have been discovered in causing myopia otherwise known as short or near-sightedness, finds a new study.

Faster, cheaper tests for myopia possible
The world's most common vision problem myopia or short/near sightedness, which causes damage to the eye and even blindness, just got easier to assess.

New approach to slowing nearsightedness in children shows promise
Combining 2 different treatment methods to slow the progression of myopia may deliver better results than either can achieve on their own.

Bright lights outdoors may help treat lazy eye in children
Amblyopia, also known as lazy eye, is a loss of vision that affects two to five percent of children across the world and originates from a deficit in visual cortical circuitry.

US $244 billion lost annually because people don't have spectacles to correct myopia
Vision impairment caused by uncorrected myopia cost the global economy an estimated US$244 billion in lost productivity in 2015, according to a new study published in the scientific journal Ophthalmology.

Study shows how light therapy might help premature babies avoid vision problems
Scientists discovered a light-dependent molecular pathway that regulates how blood vessels develop in the eye.

Read More: Myopia News and Myopia Current Events is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to