Data on myopia progression during its entire course are scarce. The aim of this study is to investigate myopia progression in Europeans as a function of age and degree of myopia from first prescription to final refractive error.
The Drentse Refractive Error and Myopia Study assessed data from a branch of opticians in the Netherlands from 1985 onwards in a retrospective study. First pair of glasses prescribed was defined as a spherical equivalent of refraction (SER) ≤-0.5 D to ≥-3.0 D. Subjects with prescriptions at an interval of at least 1 year were included in the analysis.
A total of 2555 persons (57.3% female) met the inclusion criteria. Those with first prescription before the age of 10 years showed the strongest progression (-0.50 D; IQR: -0.75 to -0.19) and a significantly (p<0.001) more negative median final SER (-4.48 D; IQR: -5.37 to -3.42). All children who developed SER ≤-3 D at 10 years were highly myopic (SER ≤-6D) as adults, children who had SER between -1.5 D and -3 D at 10 years had 46.0% risk of high myopia, and children with SER between -0.5 D and -1.5 D had 32.6% risk of high myopia. Myopia progression diminished with age; all refractive categories stabilised after age 15 years except for SER ≤-5 D who progressed up to -0.25 D annually until age 21 years.
Our trajectories of the natural course of myopia progression may serve as a guide for myopia management in European children. SER at 10 years is an important prognostic indicator and will help determine treatment intensity.