Another study documents the striking difference in myopia prevalence between Asian and non-Asian populations. A large retrospective review found 90% of individuals in East Asia have myopia, compared with approximately 30% of Americans and Europeans. Myopia progression risk factors are not fully understood, but research has shown that onset during childhood has been increasing. So far, it’s been linked to a lack of outdoor time in Chinese patients.

In a recent paper, the researchers point out that “a one-size-fits-all” approach may not be appropriate for attempting to solve the growing myopia crisis. The bulk of current myopia research has been conducted among homogenous populations, such as in East Asia, which the researchers say limits the generalizability of results. Their study investigates the role that race plays in the development and progression of myopia in a large, real-world population.

The retrospective cohort included over 36,000 refractions from more than 11,000 myopic children aged four to 11, and included subjects of white, Black, Hispanic and Asian ethnicity. The investigators adjusted their findings for body mass index, screen time and physical activity, which are known lifestyle factors that may confound results.

Their model discovered that children from East/Southeast Asia experienced significant myopia progression over time. Such patients “who presented with myopia between the ages of six and eight progressed similarly to white patients in the same age group and significantly faster compared with white patients in other age groups,” they noted.

The study authors concluded that understanding which patients are at greater risk for myopia can help public health experts devise racially  and ethnically specific strategies for limiting progression. They noted that modifying lifestyle factors, such as outdoor time, or introducing low-dose atropine, orthokeratology lenses or both may prevent or slow progression.

Luong TQ, Shu YH, Modjtahedi BS, et al. Racial and ethnic differences in myopia progression in a large, diverse cohort of pediatric patients. Invest Ophthalmol Vis Sci. 2020;61(13):20.