Sunday, February 19, 2012

Racial differences in childhood myopia

There is a stereotype of the nerdy Asian or white kid with thick glasses, but research presents a more complex picture of myopia (nearsightedness). Based on three studies of children (most are 11 or under) (here, here, and here), prevalence rates look like this:

Myopia prevalence among children

Chinese (Singapore) 40.1
Indians (Singapore) 34.1
Chinese (Malaysia) 30.9
South Asians (British) 25.2
Malays (Singapore) 22.1
Asian Americans 18.5
Hispanic Americans 13.2
Indians (Malaysia) 12.5
Black African Caribbeans (British) 10.0
Malays (Malaysia) 9.2
Black Americans 6.4
White Americans 4.4
British whites  3.4

So the ranking goes: Asians, Hispanics, blacks, and whites on the bottom--not quite the stereotype.

UPDATE: It looks like the black-white gap reverses by adulthood. More later...


  1. I work in Taiwan, and childhood myopia is enormously more common here than in the U.S. I don't have any statistics, but I would be pretty confident in saying that well over 50% of elementary school students here wear glasses.

  2. Anonymous7:29 PM

    Nonetheless Benjamin Franklin invented bifocals.
    Robert Hume

  3. Anonymous1:26 PM

    Think Jeremy Lin wears contact lenses?


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