What can anisometropia tell us about eye growth?

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Background/Aims: Both eyes of one individual share the same environment and genes. We examined interocular differences in biometry to determine the potential role of other factors in refractive development.
Methods: 362 subjects (6-7 years) from the Northern Ireland Childhood Errors of Refraction study were studied. Cycloplegic autorefraction was measured with a Shin-Nippon open-field autorefractor. Axial length and corneal curvature were measured with a Zeiss IOLMaster.
Results: 257 subjects had an interocular difference of <0.50 D (ISO group) and 105 (29%) a difference of ≥0.50 D (ANISO group). Twenty-five subjects (6.9%) had anisometropia ≥1.00 D and 9 (2.5%) had anisometropia ≥1.50 D. The two groups, ISO and ANISO, showed different refractive distributions (p=0.001) with the ISO group showing a nearly Gaussian distribution and the ANISO group showing positive skew, a hyperopic shift and a bi-Gaussian distribution. A marker of emmetropisation is the poor correlation between refraction and corneal curvature seen in older children. There was no significant correlation between refraction and corneal curvature of each eye in the ISO group (r=0.09, p=0.19), but these parameters were significantly correlated in the ANISO group (r=0.28, p=0.004).
Conclusion: In young children, small degrees of anisometropia (≥0.5 D) are associated with impaired emmetropisation. This suggests that anisometropia is a marker for poorly regulated eye growth, indicating that, in addition to environmental and genetic influences on eye growth, stochastic processes contribute to refractive outcomes.

Original languageEnglish
Early online date27 Aug 2020
Publication statusPublished online - 27 Aug 2020


  • Epidemiology
  • Optics and Refraction


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