MEPEDS, the largest study of childhood eye diseases undertaken in the U.S. confirms that the incidence of childhood myopia among American children has more than doubled over the last 50 years. The findings echo a troubling trend among adults and children in Asia, where 90 percent or more of the population have been diagnosed with myopia, up from 10 to 20 percent 60 years ago.
Multi-Ethnic Pediatric Eye Disease Study (MEPEDS)
MEPEDS is the first major pediatric eye study in the nation with more than 9,000 comprehensive free eye exams conducted by researchers and clinicians at the USC Roski Eye Institute on African-American, Asian-American, Hispanics/Latinos, and Non-Hispanic White preschool children ages 6 to 72 months from 2003-2011. MEPEDS is funded by the National Eye Institute through the National Institutes of Health.
To improve the understanding of the magnitude of ocular disease on children in America, through identifying the prevalence of certain eye conditions, associations and risk factors.
Childrens Vision at Risk: Significant Findings
MEPEDS data found the prevalence of myopia (nearsightedness) to be highest in African-American children as compared to Asian and Hispanic children with the lowest frequency occurring in Non-Hispanic
Influencing Health Policy in America
By collecting data in large epidemiological studies such as MEPEDS and understanding the risk factors, physicians can help create guidelines for screening and intervention, which may lead to preventive eye care and early treatment that is crucial to ensuring healthy vision in children today and in the future.
To date, data from MEPEDS have generated more than 20 peer-reviewed papers on the prevalence of childhood eye diseases, including myopia, hyperopia (farsightedness), amblyopia (“lazy eye”) and strabismus (abnormal alignment of the eyes).
“While research shows there is a genetic component, the rapid incidence of myopia in the matter of a few decades, particularly among Asians suggests that close work & use of mobile devices and screens on a daily basis, combined with a lack of outdoor activities and sunlight, may be the real culprit behind these dramatic increases. More research is needed to uncover how environmental and behavioral factors may affect the development and progression of eye disease.”
—Rohit Varma, MD, MPH, principal investigator, MEPEDS