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S. Vitale, R. D. Sperduto; Has the Prevalence of Myopia Increased in the US? NHANES 1971-72 and NHANES 1999-2004. Invest. Ophthalmol. Vis. Sci. 2008;49(13):3129.
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To compare the estimated prevalence of myopia in the 1971-1972 U.S. population with myopia prevalence estimates from the 1999-2004 U.S. population.
The 1971-1972 (71-72) National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey (NHANES) provided the first nationally representative estimates for prevalence of myopia in the U.S. In the 71-72 NHANES, myopia was defined based on lensometry (for those with presenting visual acuity (VA) ≥20/40) and on noncycloplegic retinoscopy (for those with presenting VA ≤20/50). We applied the 71-72 NHANES definition of myopia to vision examination data from the 1999-2004 (99-04) NHANES to compare prevalence estimates of myopia in the U.S. for the two surveys (conducted 30 years apart), for persons aged 12-54 years. For eyes with presenting VA ≥20/40, spherical equivalent (SphEq) was calculated from lensometry measurements of the current distance correction; if SphEq <0, they were classified as myopic, otherwise they were classified as non-myopic. Persons with good presenting VA (≥20/20 for NHANES 71-72; ≥20/25 for NHANES 99-04) who did not wear corrective lenses for distance were classified as non-myopic. Persons with presenting VA ≤20/50 were classified as myopic or non-myopic based on retinoscopy (71-72) or autorefractor (99-04) measurements of refraction. Prevalence estimates were based on data from right eyes of participants and were computed using appropriate weights to account for the NHANES' multistage probability sampling design.
In NHANES 71-72 and 99-04, 4,436 and 18,732 persons, respectively, had sufficient data to classify their myopia status. The estimated prevalence of myopia was statistically significantly higher in 99-04 than in 71-72 for all age groups for both non-Hispanic black and non-Hispanic white participants (see Table).
The estimated prevalence of myopia in the U.S. appears to be higher in 1999-2004 than in 1971-72. Changes in the composition of the non-Hispanic white and non-Hispanic black population in the U.S. may account for some of this difference. Another possible explanation is a change in the environmental risk factors for myopia for later birth cohorts.
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