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Purpose. This study aims to investigate genetic and environmental influences on physiological myopia by studying the difference in myopia prevalence between local schools and international schools in Hong Kong.

Methods. Vision screening was carried out in local and international schools for students 13 to 15 years old. Types of refractive error were identified by visual acuity measurement, the presence of spectacles, a simple refraction, and the use of plus and minus ophthalmic lenses.

Results. Three local schools and six international schools participated in the study. Two hundred eighty-nine students were from the local schools, and 789 students were from the international schools. Prevalence of myopia at the local schools ranged from 85 to 88%, whereas it ranged from 60 to 66% in the international schools. Students in the international schools were subdivided into Chinese origin, white, mixed Chinese, and Asian. Prevalence of myopia was highest in the Chinese group (82.8%) and lowest in the white group (40.5%). There was no age or gender difference in the prevalence of myopia.

Conclusions. Hong Kong Chinese students had a higher prevalence of myopia regardless of whether they studied in local or international schools when compared with other ethnic groups, such as whites. This further supports a genetic input into myopia development.

(C) 2004 American Academy of Optometry