Background: Children who have had cataract removal tend to have decreasing hyperopia (myopic shift) as they grow older. We wondered if the rate of myopic shift could be determined by age at surgery, cataract type, glaucoma, or other factors.
Methods: We studied 156 aphakic eyes of children who had cataract surgery before age 10 and documented refractions for more than 3 years. Refraction was corrected with contact lenses and spectacles; glaucoma was managed with medicine and surgery. Stepwise multiple regression was used to analyze differences in the rate of myopic shift between subgroups.
Results: The average refraction tended to follow a logarithmic decline with age (P < 0.01, R2 = 0.97). The average rate of myopic shift (the slope of spectacle plane refraction vs log of age, where age is in years and log is base 10) was -5.5, with a standard deviation of 3.8. Age at surgery had a small but statistically significant effect on the rate (P < 0.01, R2 = 0.04). No other studied factor reached statistical significance. However, among the 86 eyes with cataract removal after age 6 months, age at surgery was not as significant (P = 0.21), and unilateral cataract eyes tended to have a greater rate than bilateral cataract eyes (-7.7 vs -5.7; P = 0.05, R2 = 0.05).
Conclusions: Aphakic refraction tends to follow a logarithmic decline with age. The rate of myopic shift is determined partly by age at surgery and whether the cataract was unilateral or bilateral, although the effects are small. A wide variation in the rate of myopic shift exists. The following factors made little difference in the rate: cataract type, glaucoma, sex, side, and best corrected visual acuity.