Comparative corneal topography and refractive variables in monozygotic and dizygotic twins

Am J Ophthalmol. 1999 Feb;127(2):158-63. doi: 10.1016/s0002-9394(98)00319-5.


Purpose: To investigate the role of heredity in determining corneal shape, axial length, and overall refractive error.

Methods: Twenty monozygotic and 19 dizygotic twin pairs, age 12 to 73 years, were enrolled in the study. Zygosity was determined by physical similarity and by responses to questions adapted from surveys. Two twin pairs were excluded because of undetermined zygosity and one pair because of keratoconus (both siblings). Refractive error was determined by an automated refractor. Manifest refraction was also recorded, as well as cycloplegic refraction in subjects under age 18 years. Corneal topography data and manual keratometer readings were also obtained. Axial lengths were determined by A-scan ultrasound. Data were analyzed by Student t tests only in the right eye. Left-eye data were comparable for all variables.

Results: Mean intrapair difference in refractive error (spherical equivalent) was less for monozygotic than for dizygotic twins (RE: 0.41 vs 1.53; P = .001). Mean intrapair difference in axial length was less for monozygotic twins (RE: 0.39 vs 0.76 mm; P = .031). Corneal topography data (power and meridian) in all zones (3, 5, and 7 mm) also showed smaller mean differences among monozygotic pairs than dizygotic, but the difference was statistically significant only for the 5-mm zone. In addition, most Holladay Diagnostic Summary variables that were studied did not show any statistically significant differences.

Conclusions: Axial length and overall refractive error have a significant genetic basis. Corneal topography data appear to have other overriding determining factors for several of the variables studied.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.
  • Twin Study

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Child
  • Cornea / pathology*
  • Corneal Topography*
  • Humans
  • Middle Aged
  • Refraction, Ocular
  • Refractive Errors / diagnosis
  • Refractive Errors / genetics*
  • Twins, Dizygotic*
  • Twins, Monozygotic*
  • Visual Acuity