Asian children in the US exhibited higher rates of myopia than non-Hispanic white (NHW) children, according to a study conducted by Ge Wen, MSc, from the Department of Preventative Medicine, University of South California, Los Angeles.

The research group conducted a cross-sectional, population-based study of 1,501 NHW children and 1,507 Asian children between the ages of six and 72 months in Los Angeles and Riverside counties.

The study, published in the August 14th online edition of Ophthalmology, found that the myopia rate in NHW children was just 1.20%, compared to 3.98% in Asian children. Astigmatism was also more prevalent in Asian children, with a rate of 8.29% vs. 6.33% in the NHW group. NHW children experienced a higher rate of hyperopia, though, at 25.7% compared to 13.5% in Asian children. The study confirmed what many researchers had previously believed, but demonstrated the difference in myopia rates was actually lower than expected.

The cause of the disparity in myopia rates is related to both genetic and environmental factors. Most children with myopia have parents who are also myopic. Another factor leading to increased myopia rates in Asian children is the comparatively higher amount of near work and activity such as reading that is encouraged in Asian cultures. 

Studies such as this are useful in providing clinicians relevant background information on prospective patients, which helps to set practice guidelines for tailoring care to each individual patient.