What is myopia? Myopia, also known as 'short-sightedness' or 'near-sightedness', causes people to have difficulty seeing distant objects clearly. There are currently 1.45 billion myopic people in the world, a figure that is growing rapidly. The myopic eye is longer than the non-myopic eye. This means that instead of focusing on the back of the eye (the retina), light focuses in front of it, causing blurred vision. Myopia can be corrected by spectacles, contact lenses and refractive surgery Myopia usually begins in childhood at school age (six years and onwards) and can worsen until early adult years. This is referred to as youth-onset or juvenile-onset myopia. It can also occur in adults (ages 20 to 40) with no prior history of problems in childhood, termed early adult-onset myopia. One can also be born with high levels of myopia (congenital myopia) Myopia affects 1 in 5 people in Australia, 1 in 3 in America and 1 in 2 in some Asian countries. It affects a quarter of the world’s population Myopia is a rapidly increasing epidemic. By 2020, it is estimated that the number of people with myopia will grow to one third of the world’s population (2.5 billion) The causes of myopia are both genetic and environmental. Increased urbanisation and close-range activities e.g. reading and computer work, are increasing the incidence of myopia In Australia, the prevalence of myopia in children whose parents both have myopia is 30 to 40% and 20 to 25% in children who have one parent with myopia. In children with no parent with myopia the rate is less than 10% High levels of myopia doubles the risk of serious eye problems such as glaucoma or retinal detachment, which can cause permanent vision loss