Myopia prevalence in children doubles in 50 years

Post date: 
Monday, 14 March 2016
Preadolescent boy smiling while undergoing eye test with phoropter

New research has shown that myopia (being short-sighted) currently affects twice as many children in the UK than 50 years ago.

The Northern Ireland Childhood Errors of Refraction (NICER) study, uses data gathered from more than 1,000 children over six years, to provide vital information on how children’s eyes grow and change in the 21st century.
The key findings include:
  • Nearly one in five teenagers in the UK are myopic.
  • Myopia is more than twice as prevalent among UK children now than in the 1960’s (16.4 per cent vs. 7.2 per cent).
  • Myopia is most likely to occur between six and 13 years of age.
Conducted by researchers at Ulster University and jointly funded by the College of Optometrists, the study is the largest longitudinal research undertaken in the UK to examine changes in children’s vision over time.
Dr Susan Blakeney, Clinical Adviser for the College of Optometrists, said: “In some areas, children will have vision screening in their first year of school, aged four to five. If this doesn’t happen in your area, or if you have concerns about your child’s eyes (whatever their age), take them to your optometrist for a sight test. This is paid for by the National Health Service. Children do not have to be able to read to have a sight test. Your optometrist will then advise on when your child should be seen again.”
Mike Bowen, Director of Research for the College of Optometrists, adds: “Research suggests that early intervention can help slow down further increases in myopia, so sight tests in children at most risk of developing myopia are very important.”

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