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Curr Eye Res. 2003 Jul;27(1):61-8.

Variability of retinal steepness at the posterior pole in children 7-15 years of age.

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  • 1Pennsylvania College of Optometry, Elkins Park, PA 19027, USA.



Considerable evidence suggests that both axial and peripheral refraction play important roles in eye growth control. The large variability in peripheral refraction seen in adults and children indicates that the peripheral retina is exposed to a wide range of refractive errors. The current lack of appropriate measurement techniques has hampered the determination of whether variability in peripheral refraction between individuals can be correlated with variability in retinal steepness. An Optical Low Coherence Reflectometer (OLCR) was developed to determine retinal steepness.


Retinal steepness was assessed in right eyes of 63 children 7-15 years of age by measuring eye length (EL) and spherical equivalent refraction (SER) axially and at 15 degrees temporally, nasally, inferiorly and superiorly with OLCR and Binocular Auto-Refractometry, respectively, during cycloplegia. At each peripheral location, relative peripheral EL and SER (i.e., the difference between peripheral and axial readings) were compared between myopic, emmetropic and hyperopic eyes, and the correlation between relative peripheral EL and SER was analyzed.


Although the standard deviations were large, significant differences in relative peripheral EL and SER between refractive groups as well as a significant correlation between relative peripheral EL and SER were observed at several of the assessed locations. CONCLUSIONS. The results strongly suggest that peripheral refraction is correlated with retinal steepness and that previously observed variability in peripheral refraction chiefly reflects variability in retinal steepness. If peripheral refraction represents a determining parameter in the control of eye growth, the precise measurement of retinal steepness could be used not only to improve estimates of myopic progression, but also to identify children who are at high risk of developing myopia. It may lead to specialized clinical/optical treatments, e.g. the correction of not only axial but also peripheral refractive errors, which are more effective than current treatments in individuals who are at risk of myopia development or progression.

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