Changes in ocular refraction and its components among medical students--a 5-year longitudinal study

Optom Vis Sci. 1996 Jul;73(7):495-8. doi: 10.1097/00006324-199607000-00007.


Purpose: Myopic progression has been noted, especially during the period of puberty. It is interesting to investigate whether myopia will progress after the age of puberty and at what rate the changes in ocular components occur during its progression.

Methods: A 5-year longitudinal study was made of refraction and its components among 345 National Taiwan University medical students (690 eyes). The examinations included corneal curvature and cycloplegic refraction measured by auto-refractor and retinoscopy, and axial length measurement with A scan ultrasonography. The same procedures and instruments were used again after 5 years.

Results: The myopic prevalence increased from 92.8 to 95.8%; 21 new cases of myopia developed in the 5 years. The mean refractive error significantly increased from -4.26 +/- 2.66 D of freshmen to -4.94 +/- 2.70 D of clerks. The change in refractive error at the 5-year follow-up was 0.70 +/- 0.65 D more myopic for males and 0.54 +/- 0.64 D for females. The main change in the ocular components was in axial length, which increased from 25.54 to 26.05 mm in males and from 24.60 to 24.95 mm in females. Other optical components-including corneal curvature, anterior chamber depth, lens thickness-all remained relatively unchanged from the initial values.

Conclusions: Myopia can progress after the age of puberty, but at a slower rate than during childhood. Axial elongation of the eyeball is the main component that changes in myopic progression.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Disease Progression
  • Eye / physiopathology
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Longitudinal Studies
  • Male
  • Myopia / etiology
  • Myopia / physiopathology*
  • Refraction, Ocular / physiology*
  • Students, Medical