Axial growth and refractive change in white European children and young adults: predictive factors for myopia

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This report describes development of spherical equivalent refraction (SER) and axial length (AL) in two population-based cohorts of white, European children. Predictive factors for myopic growth were explored. Participants were aged 6–7- (n = 390) and 12–13-years (n = 657) at baseline. SER and AL were assessed at baseline and 3, 6 and 9 years prospectively. Between 6 and 16 years: latent growth mixture modelling identified four SER classes (Persistent Emmetropes-PEMM, Persistent Moderate Hyperopes-PMHYP, Persistent High Hyperopes-PHHYP and Emerging Myopes-EMYO) as optimal to characterise refractive progression and two classes to characterise AL. Between 12 and 22-years: five SER classes (PHHYP, PMHYP, PEMM, Low Progressing Myopes-LPMYO and High Progressing Myopes-HPMYO) and four AL classes were identified. EMYO had significantly longer baseline AL (≥ 23.19 mm) (OR 2.5, CI 1.05–5.97) and at least one myopic parent (OR 6.28, CI 1.01–38.93). More myopic SER at 6–7 years (≤ + 0.19D) signalled risk for earlier myopia onset by 10-years in comparison to baseline SER of those who became myopic by 13 or 16 years (p ≤ 0.02). SER and AL progressed more slowly in myopes aged 12–22-years (− 0.16D, 0.15 mm) compared to 6–16-years (− 0.41D, 0.30 mm). These growth trajectories and risk criteria allow prediction of abnormal myopigenic growth and constitute an important resource for developing and testing anti-myopia interventions.

Original languageEnglish
Article number15189
Pages (from-to)1-13
Number of pages13
JournalScientific Reports
Issue number1
Early online date16 Sept 2020
Publication statusPublished (in print/issue) - 1 Dec 2020


  • myopia
  • axial length
  • eye growth
  • risk factors
  • refractive error
  • children


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