The Link Between Obesity and High Myopia in Children, Adolescents

The Link Between Obesity and High Myopia in Children, Adolescents

January 14, 2022

Pediatric patients with obesity are more prone to have high myopia compared with their peers with a normal BMI (Body mass index), according to a study presented at the American Academy of Ophthalmology meeting.

“Although genetic and environmental risk factors of myopia have been studied, the association between obesity and myopia has not been well studied; besides, large-scale studies are lacking on this topic,” according to the presentation.

Sami Lee, MD, PhD, and colleagues enrolled 1,114 people aged 5 to 18 years old from the Korea National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey, which took place between 2016 and 2018.

The study included participants with data on refractive error, family history of myopia, waist circumference, and BMI.

High myopia was more likely to develop in obese and overweight participants than in children and adolescents with a normal BMI.

Analyzing by sex, girls with overweight and obesity had higher odds of high myopia; among boys, those with overweight had higher odds.

BMI classification had no significant impact on development of mild or moderate myopia.

“The findings of this study are significant in that it identified an association of childhood and adolescence obesity with high myopia involving a large number of subjects,” according to the presentation. “Although additional research is needed, efforts to maintain a healthy weight among children and adolescents will be necessary to decrease the risk of high myopia.”

The definition of high myopia as ≤ −5 D was adopted as the World Health Organization (WHO) definition in 2015. A person who needs ≤ −5 D of correction has a visual acuity that is far worse than the threshold for blindness (–3/6 in the better eye).

The prevalence of myopia is increasing globally. It has been predicted that, by the year 2050, high myopia will affect 9.8% of the global population; a total of 938 million people. The highest prevalence of myopia is seen in younger adults, particularly in urbanised East and Southeast Asian countries.