May 10, 2016
1 min read

Females at higher risk for high, pathological myopia

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SEATTLE – Researchers have determined that high myopia and pathological myopia pose a large burden in the U.S. and put individuals at risk for vision-threatening conditions, as reported here at the Association for Research in Vision and Ophthalmology meeting.

Jeffrey R. Willis, MD, of the department of ophthalmology at the University of California – Davis, Sacramento, Calif., and Genentech Inc., and colleagues also determined that females are at greater risk for high and pathological myopia.

The researchers evaluated people at least 18 years of age participating in the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey as well as those involved in the American Academy of Ophthalmology’s IRIS (Intelligent Research in Sight) Registry. They defined high myopia as at least 6 D of refractive error in the right eye and pathological myopia as progressive high/degenerative myopia.

Willis and colleagues reported that the prevalence of high myopia was 3.92%, and the prevalence of pathological myopia was 0.33%, translating to more than 9.6 million people with high myopia and more than 800,000 with pathological myopia.

Nearly 5% of females had high myopia and 0.42% had pathological myopia, while nearly 3% of males had high myopia and 0.25% had pathological myopia.

“The prevalence of pathological myopia increased with worsening myopic refraction across both sexes,” according to the researchers.

Willis told Primary Care Optometry News that “no one knows for sure” why females are at greater risk of being highly myopic.

“Maybe the estrogen effect causes greater risk,” he said. “Perhaps it’s a mitochondrial aspect.”

He added that females who are highly myopic also develop retinal conditions more frequently. – by Nancy Hemphill, ELS, FAAO


Willis JR, et al. The burden of high myopia and pathological myopia in the U.S. Presented at: Association for Research in Vision and Ophthalmology meeting; May 1-5, 2016; Seattle.

Disclosure: Willis is employed by Genentech.