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Karen M. M. Breslin, Lisa O'Donoghue, Kathryn J. Saunders; A Prospective Study of Spherical Refractive Error and Ocular Components Among Northern Irish Schoolchildren (The NICER Study). Invest. Ophthalmol. Vis. Sci. 2013;54(7):4843-4850. doi: https://doi.org/10.1167/iovs.13-11813.
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To explore 3-year change in spherical refractive error and ocular components among white Northern Irish schoolchildren.
Baseline data were collected among 6- to 7-year-old and 12- to 13-year-old children. Three years after baseline, follow-up data were collected. Cycloplegic refractive error and ocular components measurements (axial length [AL], anterior chamber depth [ACD], corneal radius of curvature [CRC]) were determined using binocular open-field autorefraction and ocular biometry. Change in spherical equivalent refractive error (SER) and ocular components were calculated.
A statistically significantly greater change in SER was found between 6 to 7 years and 9 to 10 years (younger cohort) compared to between 12 to 13 years and 15 to 16 years (older cohort) (−0.38 diopter [D] and −0.13 D, respectively) (P < 0.001). A statistically significantly greater change in AL was found among the younger compared to the older cohort (0.48 mm and 0.14 mm, respectively) (P < 0.001). Change in ACD was minimal across both groups (0.12 mm younger and 0.05 mm older cohort) as were changes in CRC. Change in SER was associated with change in AL in both age groups (both P < 0.01).
There is a greater change in both spherical refractive error and axial length in younger children when compared with teenagers. Although increase in axial length drives refractive change during childhood and teenage years, lens compensation continues to occur in an attempt to maintain emmetropia. White children living in Northern Europe demonstrate dramatically less change in spherical refractive error over a fixed period of time than their East Asian counterparts. In contrast, they appear to exhibit more rapid myopic progression than UK children studied in the mid-20th century.
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