Purpose: Growth hormone (GH) is considered essential for postnatal somatic growth, exerting its effects on growth by hepatic production of IGF-I. IGF and other growth factors interact with the developing ocular tissues by influencing the synthesis of the extracellular matrix of the sclera and by inducing angiogenesis. The association between optic nerve hypoplasia, reduced retinal vascularization and GH deficiency (GHD) is well known. The purpose of this study is to evaluate the possible influence of congenital GHD on the refraction and on the emmetropization process.
Methods: Eighty children with congenital GHD had a thorough ophthalmologic examination, including cycloplegic refraction and axial length measurement. As a control group we enrolled 483 healthy children.
Results: In accordance with other epidemiological studies, the control group showed a slightly myopic mean defect; on the contrary, in GHD group we found a hyperopic defect, related to a shorter axial length, with statistically significant differences.
Conclusions: Our findings emphasise the possible role of growth hormone in ocular development, and its interaction with the physiological process of emmetropization.