Increased prevalence of myopia in the United States between 1971-1972 and 1999-2004

Susan Vitale, Robert D. Sperduto, Frederick L. Ferris

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle


Objective: To compare US population prevalence estimates for myopia in 1971-1972 and 1999-2004. Methods: The 1971-1972 National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey 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 ≥20/40) or retinoscopy (for presenting visual acuity ≤20/50). Using a similar method for diagnosing myopia, we examined data from the 1999-2004 National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey to determine whether myopia prevalence had changed during the 30 years between the 2 surveys. Results: 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 similarmethodsforeachperiod, the prevalence of myopia in the United States appears to be substantiallyhigherin1999-2004than30years earlier.Identifying modifiable risk factors for myopia could lead to the development of cost-effective interventional strategies.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1632-1639
Number of pages8
JournalArchives of ophthalmology
Issue number12
StatePublished - Dec 1 2009


ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Ophthalmology

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