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Increasing Prevalence of Myopia in Europe and the Impact of Education



To investigate whether myopia is becoming more common across Europe and explore whether increasing education levels, an important environmental risk factor for myopia, might explain any temporal trend.


Meta-analysis of population-based, cross-sectional studies from the European Eye Epidemiology (E3) Consortium.


The E3 Consortium is a collaborative network of epidemiological studies of common eye diseases in adults across Europe. Refractive data were available for 61,946 participants from 15 population-based studies performed between 1990 and 2013; participants had a range of median ages from 44 to 78 years.


Noncycloplegic refraction, year of birth, and highest educational level achieved were obtained for all participants. Myopia was defined as a mean spherical equivalent ≤−0.75 diopters. A random-effects meta-analysis of age-specific myopia prevalence was performed, with sequential analyses stratified by year of birth and highest level of educational attainment.

Main Outcome Measures

Variation in age-specific myopia prevalence for differing years of birth and educational level.


Myopia is becoming more common in Europe; although education levels have increased and are associated with myopia, higher education seems to be an additive rather than explanatory factor. Increasing levels of myopia carry significant clinical and economic implications, with more people at risk of the sight-threatening complications associated with high myopia.


Katie M. Williams, MPhil, FRCOphth, Geir Bertelsen, MD, PhD, Phillippa Cumberland, MSc, Christian Wolfram, Virginie J.M. Verhoeven, MD, MSc, Eleftherios Anastasopoulos, MD, Gabriëlle H.S. Buitendijk, MD, MSc, Audrey Cougnard-Grégoire, PhD, Catherine Creuzot-Garcher, MD, PhD, Maja Gran Erke, MD, PhD, Ruth Hogg, PhD, René Höhn, MD, Pirro Hysi, MD, PhD, Anthony P. Khawaja, MPhil, FRCOphth, Jean-François Korobelnik, MD, Janina Ried, PhD, Johannes R. Vingerling, MD, PhD, Alain Bron, MD.

Published in

Ophthalmology, the journal of the American Academy of Ophthalmology, May 2015

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