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Myopia in ANZ and Globally

Evidence is mounting that myopia is growing around the world.13  Alarmingly, if current prevalence rates don’t change, it is estimated that by 2020, 2.56 billion people will be affected.14 By 2050, it is estimated that more than 50% of the world’s population will have myopia and 10% will have high myopia15. That is an increase from 2010, when 27% of the world’s population were estimated to have myopia, and 2.8% had high myopia.16

Myopia primarily impacts people of east Asian ethnicity, with research showing that the prevalence of myopia in that region is staggering.  In east Asia, which includes China, Japan, South Korea and Singapore, around 50% of the population is estimated to be myopic.17 

Whilst east Asia has long been seen as the worst-affected region, even countries like Australia and New Zealand, previously considered lower-risk, now face their own significant rises in myopia prevalence. By 2050, it is predicted that more than half of Australians will be myopic.18

There is limited information about the prevalence of myopia in Australia and New Zealand, particularly child myopia.

Child myopia in Australia

According to the Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS), approximately 1 in 4 Australians are short-sighted.19 By 2020, 36% of Australians are predicted to be myopic and by 2050, that number is set to increase to 55%.20

In terms of younger Australians, myopia was the second most commonly reported long-term condition (20%), preceded only by allergic rhinitis (hay fever) at 24%.21

Considering these statistics, it is troubling that a CooperVision Australia and New Zealand consumer survey found that 31% of Australian children aged 17 years and under have never been to an optometrist to have an eye examination.

Child myopia in New Zealand

Information relating to the incidence of myopia, particularly child myopia in New Zealand is minimal.

What we do know about myopia in New Zealand is based on an online survey of 109 New Zealand optometry students.  The survey looked at the country and duration of early education, ethnicity and levels of myopia.22

In terms of ethnicity, 64.3% of Europeans reported having myopia, compared to 71.1% of Asians and 80% of ‘other ethnicities’.23

Of those of east Asian ethnicity who spent their early education in New Zealand, 88.9% reported having myopia.  This was only slightly higher than the 83.3% of respondents of east Asian ethnicity who spent their early education in east Asian countries.24  

The CooperVision Australia and New Zealand consumer survey found that only 28% of New Zealand children aged 17 years and under have never been to an optometrist to have an eye examination.

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13Holden B; Fricke T; Wilson D; Jong M; Naidoo K; Sankaridurg P; Wong T; Naduvilath T; Resnikoff S. Global prevalence of myopia and high myopia and temporal trends from 2000 through 2050. American Academy of Ophthalmology 2016

14 The impact of myopia and high myopia: Report of the Joint World Health Organization – Brien Holden Vision Institute Global Scientific Meeting on Myopia. University of New South Wales, Sydney, Australia. 16-18 March 2015

15 Ibid

16 Ibid

17 Ibid

18 Holden B; Fricke T; Wilson D; Jong M; Naidoo K; Sankaridurg P; Wong T; Naduvilath T; Resnikoff S. Global prevalence of myopia and high myopia and temporal trends from 2000 through 2050. American Academy of Ophthalmology 2016

19 Australian Institute of Health and Welfare 2016. Australia’s health 2016. Australia’s health series no. 15. Cat.no.AUS 199. Canberra: AIHW. Adults stats section 3.15 pg 117. Child stats section 5.4, pg 3

20 Holden B; Fricke T; Wilson D; Jong M; Naidoo K; Sankaridurg P; Wong T; Naduvilath T; Resnikoff S. Global prevalence of myopia and high myopia and temporal trends from 2000 through 2050. American Academy of Ophthalmology 2016

21 Australian Institute of Health and Welfare 2016. Australia’s health 2016. Australia’s health series no. 15. Cat.no.AUS 199. Canberra: AIHW. Adults stats section 3.15 pg 117. Child stats section 5.4, pg 3

22 Collins A; Devanandan D; Nanda S; Anstice N. Influence of country of early education and ethnicity on myopia prevalence in a New Zealand student population. Paper presented at American Academy of Optometrists Conference, New Orleans, Louisiana, 2015

23Ibid

24Ibid