Prevalence of myopia between 3 months and 5 1/2 years in preterm infants with and without retinopathy of prematurity. Cryotherapy for Retinopathy of Prematurity Cooperative Group

Ophthalmology. 1998 Jul;105(7):1292-300. doi: 10.1016/s0161-6420(98)97036-1.


Purpose: The purpose of the study was to examine spherical equivalent refractive errors, especially myopia, at six ages between 3 months and 5 1/2 years post-term in preterm children with birth weights of less than 1251 g.

Design: A cohort study.

Participants: There were a total of 827 participants in the multicenter study of cryotherapy for retinopathy of prematurity (ROP). Approximately one third of the eyes did not develop ROP, whereas two thirds developed mild-to-severe ROP. None of the eyes underwent cryotherapy.

Intervention: Refractive error was measured at 3 months, 1 year, and 5 1/2 years term due date at the five long-term follow-up centers. In most eyes, refractive error also was measured at 2, 3 1/2, and 4 1/2 years.

Main outcome measure: Myopia was defined as 0.25 diopter (D) or greater with high myopia as 5 D or greater.

Results: The proportion of eyes with myopia in this preterm population was increased compared to published data on full-term children and was related to severity of both acute-phase and cicatricial-phase ROP. The percentage of eyes with myopia varied little across ages, ranging from 21.2% at 1 year to 15.7% at 4 1/2 years. The percentage of eyes with high myopia doubled from 1.8% to 3.9% between 3 months and 1 year and remained stable thereafter. The distribution of refractive errors in eyes with mild acute-phase ROP was similar to that of eyes with no ROP. In contrast, eyes with moderate or severe acute-phase ROP showed an increased prevalence of high myopia. The distribution of refractive errors changed between 3 months and 1 year with little change after 1 year. This pattern of refractive development differs from that of full-term infants. Birth weight, severity of ROP, and degree of myopia at 3 months predicted the presence of myopia and high myopia at 5 1/2 years of age.

Conclusions: The distribution of refractive errors in preterm infants from age 3 months to 5 1/2 years varies with severity of acute-phase ROP and cicatricial disease. Changes in refractive error distribution occur primarily between 3 months and 1 year and involve a decrease in the proportion of eyes with hyperopia and an increase in the proportion with high degrees of myopia.

Publication types

  • Multicenter Study
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Acute Disease
  • Child
  • Child, Preschool
  • Cohort Studies
  • Cryotherapy
  • Humans
  • Infant
  • Infant, Newborn
  • Infant, Premature*
  • Infant, Very Low Birth Weight*
  • Myopia / epidemiology
  • Myopia / etiology*
  • Prevalence
  • Prospective Studies
  • Retinopathy of Prematurity / complications*
  • Retinopathy of Prematurity / surgery
  • United States / epidemiology