Programm                 "Degeneration und Regeneration– Grundlagen, Diagnostik und Therapie"

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Epidemiology of Myopia and Clinical Consequences of the Current Research

Schaeffel F.
Section of Neurobiology of the Eye, University Eye Hospital, Dept. II, Tübingen

Purpose: Research on animal models has provided information on the potential mechanisms of myopia development in humans. These studies have stimulated a number of studies in children.
Method: Pedigree analysis, statistical analysis, different correction protocols.
Results: The incidence of myopia is much higher in industrial nations. Its recent increase cannot be attributed to changes in the genetic background but must be environmental. However, heritability studies (parent-offspring relationships and twin studies) demonstrate also a strong genetic influence, recently estimated to around 80%. However, there is still room to play with the 20% visual input. Assuming that the established relationship between near work and myopia is due to the lag of accommodation during reading, any procedure that reduces the lag should be beneficial. Large recent studies show that reading glasses which reduce or even invert the lag of accommodation have, in fact, a significant inhibitory effect on myopia (COMET study, about 17% less progression, and others studies). Overcorrection was found to have no significant effect but a recent study claims increased progression in the case of undercorrection. This surprisingly significant effect is unexpected and does not fit into the results from animal models. Hard contact lenses were found to reduce myopia progression in some cases but soft contact lenses seem to enhance it.

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