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Parental myopia tied to higher risk of early onset myopia


Written By: Aparna Ramasubramanian MD
courtesy of AAO

Review of: Association of Parental Myopia With Higher Risk of Myopia Among Multiethnic Children Before School Age

Jiang X, Tarczy-Hornoch K, Cotter S, et al. JAMA Ophthalmology, May 2020

This study investigated the association of parental myopia with refractive error and ocular biometry in multiethnic children aged 6 to 72 months.

Study design

Researchers used pooled data from children in 3 population-based studies with comparable design, namely MEPEDS in Los Angeles, California; STARS in Singapore; and SPEDS in Sydney, Australia. The analysis cohort included a total of 9,793 children, including 4,003 Asian participants, 2,201 African American participants, 1,998 Hispanic White participants and 1,591 non-Hispanic White participants. Comprehensive eye examinations had been performed in all of the children.


Maternal and paternal myopia were associated with a greater prevalence of myopia in the study participants. Early-onset (before 12 years of age) parental myopia was associated more strongly with myopic refractive error in children than was adult-onset parental myopia. Having 2 parents with myopia was consistently associated with a higher risk of myopia in the study participants. Compared with children without parental myopia, the odds ratios for early onset myopia were 1.42 for children with 1 parent with myopia, 2.70 for children with 2 parents with myopia and 3.39 for children with 2 parents with childhood-onset myopia.


The study defined myopia as a spherical equivalent refractive error of -0.5 D or less in the more myopic eye; however, in young children (<36 months) the myopia may resolve with emmetropization. In addition, the parental history of myopia and age of onset was based on history reported by a single parent or guardian, which could lead to recall bias.

Clinical significance

In study participants, parental history of myopia was strongly associated with a greater risk of early onset myopia. The risk was higher if both parents had history of myopia, particularly if the age of onset in the parents was earlier than 12 years.