With all the recent attention to myopia’s inexorable rise in prevalence, amblyopia awareness may be lacking in current discussions of vision impairment . But a new Chinese study predicts the number of people affected by amblyopia worldwide will more than double, from 99.2 million today to 221.9 million, by 2040. The growth will be front-loaded, as the researchers estimate amblyopia rates will rise to 175.2 million cases by 2030.

The investigation analyzed data from 60 studies published prior to 2018 to estimate prevalence rates and pinpoint amblyopia trends among various races and regions. The studies included records of 1.86 million individuals.

Europe had the highest amblyopia prevalence rate, at 2.90%, followed by North America (2.41%). These two regions were much higher than Asia (1.09%) and Africa (0.72%). As far as age, researchers found people older than 20 had the highest rates of amblyopia, 3.29%. However, gender didn’t appear to play a role. 

Based on the analyzed pooled data, the overall prevalence rate of amblyopia sits at 1.44% worldwide.

“It is of great importance to design and implement amblyopia screening, treatment and related public health strategies,” the researchers wrote in their paper. 

Fu Z, Hong H, Su Z, et al. Global prevalence of amblyopia and disease burden projections through 2040: a systematic review and meta-analysis. Br J Ophthalmol. November 8, 2019. [Epub ahead of print].