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Who Is Affected by Nearsightedness

Nearsightedness most commonly begins in childhood (between ages 6 and 12).1 Common nearsightedness (physiological myopia) affects about 1 out of 4 adults.2

Severe nearsightedness, called high myopia (error of 6 diopters or more), affects about 1 out of 6 people who are nearsighted.2

Pathological myopia is not common. The gradual damage to the retina caused by pathological myopia seldom appears before age 20.


  1. American Academy of Ophthalmology (2007). Refractive Errors and Refractive Surgery (Preferred Practice Pattern). San Francisco: American Academy of Ophthalmology. Also available online:
  2. Eye Diseases Prevalence Research Group (2004). The prevalence of refractive errors among adults in the United States, western Europe, and Australia. Archives of Ophthalmology, 122(4): 495–505.
By Healthwise Staff
Primary Medical Reviewer Kathleen Romito, MD - Family Medicine
Specialist Medical Reviewer Christopher J. Rudnisky, MD, MPH, FRCSC - Ophthalmology
Last Revised June 24, 2011

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