Purpose. The high prevalence of myopia in Chinese children living in urban East Asian countries such as Hong Kong, Taiwan, and China has been well documented. However, it is not clear whether the prevalence of myopia would be similarly high for this group of children if they were living in a Western country. This study aims to determine the prevalence and progression of myopia in ethnic Chinese children living in Canada.
Methods. Right eye refraction data of Chinese-Canadian children aged 6 to 12 years were collated from the 2003 clinical records of an optometric practice in Mississauga, Ontario, Canada. Myopia was defined as a spherical equivalent refraction (SER) equal or less than −0.50 D. The prevalence of myopia and refractive error distribution in children of different ages and the magnitude of refractive error shifts over the preceding 8 years were determined. Data were adjusted for potential biases in the clinic sample. A questionnaire was administered to 300 Chinese and 300 Caucasian children randomly selected from the clinic records to study lifestyle issues that may impact on myopia development.
Results. Optometric records of 1468 children were analyzed (729 boys and 739 girls). The clinic bias adjusted prevalence of myopia increased from 22.4% at age 6 to 64.1% at age 12 and concurrently the portion of the children that were emmetropic (refraction between −0.25 and +0.75 D) decreased (68.6% at 6 years to 27.2% at 12 years). The highest incidence of myopia for both girls (∼35%) and boys (∼25%) occurred at 9 and 10 years of age. The average annual refractive shift for all children was −0.52 ± 0.42 D and −0.90 ± 0.40 D for just myopic children. The questionnaire revealed that these Chinese-Canadian children spent a greater amount of time performing near work and less time outdoors than did Caucasian-Canadian children.
Conclusions. Ethnic Chinese children living in Canada develop myopia comparable in prevalence and magnitude to those living in urban East Asian countries. Recent migration of the children and their families to Canada does not appear to lower their myopia risk.