Refractive error, axial length, environmental and hereditary factors associated with myopia in Swedish children

Pelsin Demir, Karthikeyan Baskaran, Baskar Theagarayan, Peter Gierow, Padmaja Sankaridurg, Antonio Filipe Macedo

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

24 Citations (Scopus)


Clinical relevance: Investigation of refractive errors amongst Swedish schoolchildren will help identify risk factors associated with myopia development. Background: Genetic and hereditary aspects have been linked with the development of myopia. Nevertheless, in the case of ‘school myopia’ some authors suggest that environmental factors may affect gene expression, causing school myopia to soar. Additional understanding about which environmental factors play a relevant role can be gained by studying refractive errors in countries like Sweden, where prevalence of myopia is expected to be low. Methods: Swedish schoolchildren aged 8-16 years were invited to participate. Participants underwent an eye examination, including cycloplegic refraction and axial length (AL) measurements. Predictors such as time spent in near work, outdoor activities and parental myopia were obtained using a questionnaire. Myopia was defined as spherical equivalent refraction (SER) ≤ −0.50D and hyperopia as SER ≥ +0.75D.Results: A total of 128 children (70 females and 58 males) participated in this study with mean age of 12.0 years (SD = 2.4). Based on cycloplegic SER of the right eye, the distribution of refractive errors was: hyperopia 48.0% (CI95 = 38.8-56.7), emmetropia 42.0% (CI95 = 33.5-51.2) and myopia 10.0%. (CI95 = 4.4-14.9). The mean AL was 23.1 mm (SD = 0.86), there was a correlation between SER and AL, r = −0.65 (p < 0.001). Participants with two myopic parents had higher myopia and increased axial length than those with one or no myopic parents. The mean time spent in near work, outside of school, was 5.3 hours-per-day (SD = 3.1), and mean outdoor time reported was 2.6 hours-per-day (SD = 2.2) for all the participants. The time spent in near work and outdoor time were different for different refractive error categories. Conclusion: The prevalence of myopia amongst Swedish schoolchildren is low. Hereditary and environmental factors are associated with refractive error categories. Further studies with this sample are warranted to investigate how refractive errors and environmental factors interact over time.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)595-601
Number of pages7
JournalClinical and Experimental Optometry
Issue number5
Early online date2 Mar 2021
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jul 2021
Externally publishedYes


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