Myopia and the urban environment: Findings in a sample of 12-year-old Australian school children

Jenny M. Ip, Kathryn A. Rose, Ian G. Morgan, George Burlutsky, Paul Mitchell*

*Corresponding author for this work

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

    157 Citations (Scopus)

    Abstract

    PURPOSE. To examine associations between myopia and measures of urbanization in a population-based sample of 12-yearold Australian children. METHODS. Questionnaire data on sociodemographic and environmental factors including ethnicity, parental education, and time spent in near work and outdoor activities were collected from 2367 children (75.0% response) and their parents. Population density data for the Sydney area were used to construct five urban regions. Myopia was defined as spherical equivalent refraction ≤ -0.50 D. RESULTS. Myopia prevalence was lowest in the outer suburban region (6.9%) and highest in the inner city region (17.8%), with mean refraction tending toward greater myopia by region (outer suburban to inner city), after adjustment for age, sex, ethnicity, near work, outdoor activity, and parental myopia. Multivariate-adjusted analyses confirmed greater odds for myopia in regions of higher population density (Ptrend = 0.0001). Myopia was significantly more prevalent among children living in apartment residences than other housing types (χ2 < 0.0001), after adjustment for ethnicity, near work, and outdoor activity. Housing density (measured as the number of houses visible from a front door) was not significantly associated with myopia (χ2 = 0.1). For both European Caucasian and East Asian children, myopia was most prevalent in the inner city region (8.1% and 55.1%, for European Caucasian and East Asian, respectively). CONCLUSIONS. The higher myopia prevalence in inner city-urban areas compared with outer suburban areas for this large childhood sample suggest that even moderate environmental differences within a predominantly urban setting may be associated with increased odds of myopia. These findings are consistent with previous reports of rural-urban differences in childhood myopia.

    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)3858-3863
    Number of pages6
    JournalInvestigative Ophthalmology and Visual Science
    Volume49
    Issue number9
    DOIs
    Publication statusPublished - Sept 2008

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