January 11, 2019
2 min read

Study estimates productivity loss from global burden of myopia

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Tim Fricke
Tim Fricke

Visual impairment due to uncorrected myopia leads to an estimated global productivity loss of approximately $250 billion per year, with the greatest burden in Southeast Asia, South Asia and East Asia, according to a study.

“Even under conservative assumptions, the potential productivity loss associated with visual impairment (VI) and blindness resulting from uncorrected myopia is substantially greater than the cost of correcting myopia,” the authors noted.

Population data were extracted from the United Nations World Population Prospects and the U.S. Census Bureau. The prevalence of myopia was estimated for each country applying the methods of Holden and colleagues to a systematic review and meta-analysis of studies. A systematic search for myopia correction rates included 37 studies from 36 different countries. Productivity loss was estimated according to the WHO Global Health Estimates Technical Paper.

The global potential productivity loss associated with the burden of VI in 2015 was estimated at $244 billion from uncorrected myopia and $6 billion from myopic macular degeneration. Southeast Asia, South Asia and East Asia stood out as having well over twice the productivity loss of any other region, accounting for 1.35%, 1.30% and 1.27%, respectively, of the gross domestic product.

“The concentration of VI resulting from uncorrected refractive error in the least developed countries increases the difficulty for these countries to achieve United Nations sustainable development goal 1 (no poverty), goal 4 (quality education), goal 8 (decent work and economic growth) and goal 10 (reduced inequalities),” the authors wrote.

They also noted that the estimated global productivity loss associated with myopia is more than an order of magnitude larger than the cost of addressing uncorrected refractive error, “highlighting an economic case for prioritizing the management of myopia.”

“An estimate $244 billion of global productivity was lost to vision impairment from uncorrected myopia in 2015, which could be solved with an investment of $20 billion. Additional productivity loss was estimated to result from the increasing rate of pathological complications seen in higher myopia,” co-author Tim Fricke, MSc, told Primary Care Optometry News. “The estimates provide a clear economic case for myopia management that includes prevention, universal access to refractive correction and evidence-based myopia control treatments.” – by Michela Cimberle


Holden BA, et al. Ophthalmology. 2016;doi:10.1016/j.ophtha.2016.01.006.

Mathers C, Ho J. Global Health Estimates Technical Paper. WHO methods and data sources for global burden of disease estimates 2000-2015. Geneva: Department of Information Evidence and Research, World Health Organization; 2017.

Disclosure: The authors reported no relevant financial disclosures.